Korea deploys new missile capable of hitting anywhere in NK
South Korea has deployed a new long-range cruise missile that puts nuclear and missile sites in the entire North Korean territory within striking distance, defense ministry officials said Thursday, amid growing security jitters sparked by the North's botched rocket launch.
The new, home-grown cruise missile has a range of "more than 1,000 kilometers and can immediately strike anywhere in North Korea," said Maj. Gen. Shin Won-sik, the senior official in charge of policy planning at the ministry.
"While maintaining unwavering readiness with this longer-range weaponry, our military will firmly and thoroughly retaliate if North Korea conducts a reckless provocation."
Shin did not give the name of the new cruise missile, apparently for an intelligence matter, but South Korea has started manufacturing the surface-to-surface Hyunmu-3C with a range of up to 1,500 km since 2010.
The previous versions of Hyunmu-3A and Hyunmu-3B, with a range of 500 km and 1,000 km each, were put into service.
Together with the new cruise missile, the military has also deployed a new tactical ballistic missile with a range of 300 km, which is "more powerful than" the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) developed by the United States, Shin said.
The defense ministry decided to publicly announce the deployment of the two missiles in a display of willingness that the military is keeping a watertight defense posture against North Korea's recent missile threat, Shin said.
The rare announcement of new missile deployment comes as officials and analysts have warned that North Korea may stage more provocative actions, including a potential nuclear test, despite the failed launch of a long-range rocket last week.
North Korea claimed the launch was designed to put a satellite into orbit, but South Korea, the United States and others blasted it as a cover for testing improved ballistic missile technology.
The North's failed launch drew swift international condemnation. In New York on Monday, the United Nations Security Council "strongly condemned" the North's launch, saying it will impose new sanctions if Pyongyang carries out another launch of a long-range rocket or a nuclear test.
Tensions on the Korean Peninsula remain high after North Korea torpedoed a South Korean warship and shelled a southern border island in 2010 that resulted in 50 people, including two civilians, being killed. South Korea has vowed a tougher retaliation if it is provoked by the North again.
Under a pact with the U.S., which stations some 28,500 troops in South Korea, the range of South Korean ballistic missiles is limited to 300 km and their payload weight to 500 kilograms. The pact only applies to high-velocity, free-flight ballistic missiles and not the slow, surface-skimming cruise weapons.
Making a visit to Seoul this week, Adm. Samuel Locklear, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, told reporters that South Korea and the United States are looking at "all options" to prevent any further provocations from North Korea. (Yonhap)