Cruise missiles forward deployed
By Kang Seung-woo
In addition, an independent missile defense shield is being planned.
The Ministry of National Defense revealed Wednesday a missile-based defense and offense plan following a third nuclear test by the North a day earlier, indicating Seoul’s readiness to go head to head in what is turning into an arms race triggered by the North’s series of provocations that also included the Dec. 12 long-range rocket launch.
“To counter North Korea’s nuclear threats, we have secured various strike capabilities including the development of cruise and ballistic missiles,” Kim Min-seok, a spokesman for the ministry, said in a briefing.
“We have independently developed accurate cruise missiles that can reach the whole area of North Korea, and they have been deployed.”
The cruise missile is an improved version of the Hyunmoo-3C, which is capable of striking a target up to 1,500 kilometers away, according to Yonhap News. Despite the international community’s warnings to drop its nuclear program, Kim Jung-un’s regime detonated a nuclear device in Gilju County, North Hamgyeong Province, which is home to the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test complex.
The military authorities plan to complete installing missiles that target the North’s nuclear and missile facilities on warships within two to three years.
In addition, the spokesman said that the South Korean military will speed up producing 800-kilometer range ballistic missiles on the basis of October’s revised missile pact between Korean and the U.S. — an agreement allowing the South to have ballistic missiles with a range of up to 500 miles (804 kilometers) to better cope with the North’s nuclear and missile threats — while establishing a “kill chain” to detect, target and destroy North Korean ballistic missiles, which are capable of hitting South Korea, Japan and Guam earlier than scheduled in 2015.
He also added that Seoul plans to build an independent theater missile defense shield, called the Korean Air and Missile defense (KAMD) network system.
Meanwhile, after the test, the North has said that it will take second and third measures if the United States “maintains its hostility.”
The U.N. Security Council strongly condemned the nuclear test and pledged further action Tuesday, which may trigger Pyongyang to opt for testing another nuclear device or launching a long-range ballistic missile.
Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin admitted that the North may push ahead with another test. “Considering other countries’ cases, North Korea’s nuclear testing will not come to an end at this point,” he told lawmakers at the National Assembly, Tuesday.
For example, Pakistan carried out seven nuclear tests before weaponizing its nuclear technology.
The National Intelligence Service also said the North may conduct an additional test and launch a long-range missile if the U.N. moves to penalize it for the test.
North Korea has prepared for a nuclear blast in two tunnels at the Punggye-ri site and just one of them was used for Tuesday’s test.
“One of the two tunnels is intact and we believe the North can explode another nuclear device at any time,” the spokesman said.
He added the military needs to be on heightened alert for at least 48 to 72 hours for an additional test.
However, he said that the military is doubtful about the North’s announcement of a “successful” test using a miniaturized and lighter nuclear device.