South Korea has successfully tested a new missile capable of striking targets anywhere inside North Korea, South Korean defense sources revealed Thursday.
News of South Korea’s test comes two days after the North launched a ballistic missile of its own. U.S. Pacific Command initially determined that the North Korean missile was a KN-15 (Pukguksong-2), a solid-fueled, road-mobile medium-range ballistic missile the country tested for the first time in February.
However, a senior U.S. defense official told reporters Wednesday that the missile may have been an older liquid-fueled, extended-range scud missile fired from a fixed location. The missile allegedly malfunctioned shortly after launching, causing it to spin out of control and crash into the sea.
Tuesday’s test is the second to go wrong in just a few weeks. North Korea attempted to fire an unidentified ballistic missile towards the end of March; however, the missile exploded seconds after launch.
Some observers suspect that North Korean missile failures are the result of a targeted U.S. cyber campaign. Others attribute North Korea’s unsuccessful launches to poor-quality missiles, unreliable equipment, and incompetence. Either way, the North is having trouble getting its missiles in the air.
South Korea, on the other hand, apparently has no trouble launching its missiles.
“There was a test-firing recently of a Hyunmoo-type ballistic missile with a range of nearly 800 km at the Anheung test site,” inside sources told Yonhap News Agency, adding the launch was assessed as “successful.”
Ministry of National Defense spokesman Moon Sang-gyun claimed the country has been developing a missile with a range of nearly 500 miles and a payload of over 1,100 pounds, without confirming or denying the test. Fired from anywhere in South Korea, the missile could hit any target in the North.
Defense sources reportedly said they expect the new missile to send a “strong warning message to North Korea,” which has continued its provocations despite numerous international restrictions prohibiting the regime from testing ballistic missiles.
Once deployed, the new missile will enhance South Korea’s deterrence capabilities in the face of North Korea’s expanding arsenal of missiles and nuclear weapons, as well as its massive conventional force.
“Our troops maintain a firm posture for an immediate response to any kind of provocation by North Korea,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said after North Korea’s latest weapons test, adding that North Korea is on a path towards the end of the regime.
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