The Ministry of National Defense said Monday it is mulling over multiple options to realize an offensive operational strategy.
The remarks came as it denied a claim that Defense Minister Song Young-moo had ordered the suspension of key projects to build the country's own Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) system.
Rep. Kim Jong-dae of the minor opposition Justice Party said earlier in the day that Song had suspended projects to improve the country's ballistic missile early warning radar system and the mid-range hit-to-kill missile interceptor, code-named M-SAM, based on documents from the Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA).
Kim claimed Song's order came from the belief offensive assets are more important than defensive ones.
It sparked suspicions the move might have been intended to secure a budget for the introduction of ship-based Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors from the U.S. , which are estimated to be as costly as similar projects for the M-SAM and the early warning radar system.
"It is not true that Song ordered the projects suspended," ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said during a regular briefing. "We are at a stage of considering how to boost military capability to realize an offensive operational strategy and what the priority for that aim should be."
He said the ministry is conducting research into the issue and multiple options are on the table.
Song said earlier the ministry would shift its war potential concept and military structure from defensive to offensive.
When asked about the possible introduction of SM-3 interceptors on new Aegis destroyers, Moon replied, "No missile type has been decided on yet."
Seoul is pushing to build three new Aegis destroyers by 2020 in addition to its three existing ones. Song earlier told the National Assembly defense committee he is considering equipping the new destroyers with the SM-3.
The spokesman said Song's remarks only indicate they are open to various options.
The KAMD is a project to develop the country's own multi-layered missile defense system to intercept incoming North Korean missiles. It includes developing interceptors such as M-SAM and long-range surface-to-air missiles (L-SAM) that can intercept missiles at altitudes of up to 100 kilometers.
President Moon Jae-in has vowed to prioritize strengthening the country's defense capabilities, stressing the need to speed up the establishment of KAMD, along with the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) plan.
Meanwhile, SM-3 interceptors are the backbone of the U.S. Navy's interception program.
They are capable of shooting down ballistic missiles at altitudes of 150 kilometers to 500 kilometers, while a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery was designed to counter incoming ballistic missiles at altitudes ranging from 40 to 150 kilometers.
Kim claimed if the ministry introduces SM-3 instead of boosting KAMD, it would go against the government's principal to secure a defensive capability of its own separate from the U.S. missile defense system.