South Korea is deploying a new cruise missile capable of hitting targets anywhere in North Korea.
South Korea, new arsenal
South Korea, simultaneous to releasing a video showing its new cruise missile destroying a target, is vowing to “firmly and thoroughly retaliate” if North Korea conducts further provocations.
South Korean army Major General Shin Won-sik, briefing domestic defense reporters at the ministry, took a tough posture in view of North Korea's recent activities.
The general says the new missile has a range of more than 1,000 kilometers and can immediately strike anywhere in North Korea.
The deployment announcement comes less than a week after North Korea tried to launch what Seoul and Washington characterize as a Taepodong-2 long-range missile.
Pyongyang says its failed launch was a peaceful attempt to place an earth observation satellite into orbit.
General Shin did not name the newly deployed missile. Analysts say it is the surface-to-surface Hyunmu 3C (also referred to as the Chollyong), reputed to be able to strike a target with two meters accuracy while carrying a 450-kilogram warhead.
New ballistic missile unvieled
The general also announced the South Korean military has deployed a new tactical ballistic missile with a range of 300 kilometers.
Professor Kim Yeon-su, at the National Defense University in Seoul says the cruise missile is precise but slow, making it susceptible to being intercepted.
The professor says having this type of advanced cruise missiles, able to target anywhere in North Korea, means South Korea has partly achieved an ability to defend itself.
The United States maintains more than 28,000 uniformed personnel in South Korea and includes the country under its nuclear weapons umbrella.
South Korea is bound by an agreement with the United States to limit its ballistic missiles to a range of 300 kilometers, but slower, surface-skimming cruise weapons are exempt from the agreement.
Defense and intelligence officials here and in Washington say they expect North Korea to conduct a third underground nuclear test sometime this year.
Earlier this month, South Korean officials released satellite photos showing new activity at North Korea's nuclear test site.
Pyongyang followed two previous failed long-range missile launches, in 2006 and 2009, with nuclear tests.
More provocation to follow
Former CIA Director Michael Hayden says he is concerned the country's new leader, Kim Jong Un, may feel pressured to follow last week's rocket launch with an additional provocative act.
"We have seen this pattern in the past - where they have a missile launch, the rest of the world has responded, and rather than compromise and negotiate, the North has taken another provocative action. And in two instances, the provocative action has been an attempt at a nuclear test. So I fear that this is the course of action they may be on," said Hayden.
North Korea on Wednesday again threatened - with its typical bombastic rhetoric - to wage a “sacred war to clearly annihilate the traitorous group of dogs” in the South.
The two Koreas fought to a stalemate in a three-year civil war during the early 1950s. The United States led U.N. forces against the North, which was backed by as many as three million Chinese soldiers.
China remains North Korea's only significant ally.