South Korea Declares Ability to Strike Deep Into North

Posted April 19th, 2012 at 6:05 am (UTC-5)
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South Korea says it has deployed a new cruise missile capable of striking North Korean nuclear and missile sites.

South Korean military officials announced the deployment Thursday at a news conference for South Korean reporters, apparently in reaction to North Korea's failed rocket launch and fears that a nuclear test is being prepared.

Seoul later released a video showing the missiles being launched, flying through the air, and striking targets.

A senior Defense Ministry official, Maj.-Gen. Shin Won-sik, said the missile has a range of more than 1,000 kilometers and can strike anywhere in North Korea.

“It has the ability to hit all North Korean facilities, equipment, and people at a required time and as much as we want.”

Cruise missiles are capable of flying low to the ground and weaving through enemy defenses to reach their targets.

Ministry officials say the cruise missile has been developed using entirely home-grown technology, highlighting the contrast with the embarrassing failure of North Korea's three attempts at a long-range ballistic missile launch.

South Korea's semi-official Yonhap news agency quoted Shin saying South Korea has also deployed a new tactical ballistic missile with a range of 300 kilometers.

South Korea's announcement comes amid worldwide condemnation of last week's North Korean launch, billed as an attempt to place a weather satellite into orbit. Pyongyang vowed this week to continue its efforts despite U.N. resolutions barring its use of ballistic missile technology.

This week in New York, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said the world body stands ready to take further action if North Korea persists in its actions.

Earlier this month, South Korean officials released satellite intelligence photos showing new activity at the site of North Korea's two previous underground nuclear tests.

Former CIA Director Michael Hayden told VOA this week he is concerned the country's new leader, Kim Jong Un, may feel pressured to follow the failed 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.”

North Korea insists it was within its legal rights when it launched the rocket last week. The rocket broke apart and fell into the Yellow Sea.