South Korea tests mis­siles that are able to hit ‘any tar­get’ in the North

The China Post - - GUIDE POST -

South Korea on Wed­nes­day test-fired two bal­lis­tic mis­siles ca­pa­ble of hit­ting any part of North Korea, in an ap­par­ent re­sponse to re­cent bel­li­cose boasts from Py­ongyang about its nu­clear and mis­sile ca­pa­bil­i­ties.

In an un­usual move, Pres­i­dent Park Geun-hye per­son­ally ob­served the test ex­er­cise, a de­fense min­istry of­fi­cial said.

“The mil­i­tary tested two home­de­vel­oped, long- range mis­siles that could hit any tar­get in North Korea,” the of­fi­cial told AFP on con­di­tion of anonymity.

The test came al­most a month af­ter North Korea said it had suc­cess­fully tested a sub­ma­rine- launched bal­lis­tic mis­sile (SLBM) — a claim which nu­mer­ous ex­perts said was prob­a­bly ex­ag­ger­ated.

A fully de­vel­oped SLBM ca­pa­bil­ity would take the North Korean nu­clear threat to a new level, al­low­ing de­ploy­ment far be­yond the Korean penin­sula and giv­ing it the po­ten­tial to re­tal­i­ate in the event of a nu­clear attack.

As well as the SLBM test, Py­ongyang re­cently boasted of its abil­ity to minia­turise a nu­clear war­head to fit on high- pre­ci­sion, long- range rock­ets.

Ex­perts also ques­tioned that claim, although there is broad agree­ment that the North is mov­ing ahead quickly with both its nu­clear and bal­lis­tic mis­sile pro­grammes.

The type of South Korean mis­sile tested Wed­nes­day is ca­pa­ble of car­ry­ing a one-ton pay­load up to 500 kilo­me­ters (310 miles).

It was de­vel­oped un­der an agree­ment reached in 2012 with the United States to al­most triple the range of the South’s bal­lis­tic mis­sile sys­tems.

A sim­i­lar mis­sile was pre­vi­ously tested in April 2014.

The United States sta­tions 28,500 troops in South Korea and guar­an­tees a nu­clear “um­brella” in case of any atomic attack.

In re­turn, Seoul ac­cepts lim­its on its mis­sile ca­pa­bil­i­ties and had pre­vi­ously op­er­ated un­der a range and pay­load ceil­ing of 300 kilo­me­ters and 500 kilo­grams (1,100 pounds).

Given the am­bi­tions of North Korea’s own mis­sile pro­gram, the South had long ar­gued for the lim­its to be ex­tended.

The 2012 agree­ment, which was de­nounced as a provo­ca­tion by Py­ongyang, al­lows the South to deploy mis­siles with a max­i­mum range of 800 kilo­me­ters.

While the max­i­mum pay­load for that range re­mains 500 kilo­grams, the two pa­ram­e­ters are in­versely linked, so that for shorter ranges cor­re­spond­ing pay­load in­creases are al­lowed.

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