Most of South Korea’s key national installations are vulnerable to an attack from the North, according to South Korean government data.
Almost all of the 156 government-designated power plants and other essential facilities could be destroyed by a North Korean missile strike. Only four are hardened to survive such an attack, the Chosun Ilbo reports, citing the testimony of Liberty Korea Party lawmaker Lee Cheol-woo, who presented data from the South Korean Ministry of Trade, Industry and Energy.
North Korea is believed to have hundreds of short-range ballistic missiles in its arsenal, weapons capable of carrying conventional, nuclear, chemical, and biological payloads. South Korea has indigenous missile defense systems, as well as interceptors acquired from the U.S., including the elite Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) antimissile system.
Saturation, the firing of multiple missiles simultaneously, and experiments in terminal maneuverability, capabilities seen on two new North Korean SRBM variants tested this year, could potentially overwhelm these systems in a conflict. A submarine-launched ballistic missile, like the KN-11 SLBM North Korea is developing, could also destroy essential facilities from behind South Korean defenses.
A recent investigation revealed that a number of South Korean facilities lack bomb shelters, and of those that have shelters, two-thirds can only hold, on average, 68 percent of the staff. Less than one-fifth of these facilities are equipped with gas masks, and only 32 percent have anti-toxins to counter the effects of a horrible biological attack.
North Korea is suspected to have active chemical and biological weapons programs. The Korea Institute for Defense Analyses estimates that North Korea is in possession of around 25 chemical agents, including six potent nerve agents, such as VX and sarin. The reclusive regime is also believed to be in possession of 13 types of pathogens, including anthrax and clostridium.
As far as North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities are concerned, the rogue regime is able to produce both traditional atomic and staged thermonuclear bombs. North Korea tested the latter for the first time in September.
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