South Korea last month successfully tested a new ballistic missile that is capable of hitting all of North Korea, a spokesman for the South Korean Ministry of National Defense said at an April 4 press briefing.
According to spokesman Kim Min-seok, the new missile can deliver a 1,000-kilogram payload at a range of up to 500 kilometers.
The missile was launched from a test site on the west coast of South Korea on March 23. The launch was the first to take advantage of a 2012 agreement between Seoul and Washington allowing South Korea to extend the range of its ballistic missiles.
Under a 2001 agreement with the United States, South Korea had been limited to developing ballistic missiles with ranges of no more than 300 kilometers for a 500-kilogram payload. But in October 2012, Washington and Seoul announced a revision to the 2001 agreement, allowing South Korea to extend the range to 800 kilometers. (See ACT, November 2012.) The revision kept the payload cap at 500 kilograms.
Kim said that South Korea plans to develop missiles with an 800-kilometer range.
Under these revised guidelines, South Korea will be able to target any site in North Korea from anywhere in its own territory. At the time that the October 2012 revision was announced, the United States said the range extension would allow South Korea to improve its ability to defend against North Korea’s ballistic missiles.
North Korea is believed to have several varieties of operationally deployed ballistic missiles, including the Nodong, which has a range of approximately 1,300 kilometers. North Korea also is developing intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), although it has yet to conduct a successful test of a missile in that category. It has displayed ICBMs in parades, but many experts have said those missiles were mock-ups.
The (North) Korean People’s Army complained in an April 5 statement that Seoul did not provide adequate warnings that it was planning to test the missile.
NK News, an independent website focused on developments in North Korea, reported April 7 that international organizations that provide alerts on missile launches for maritime and aviation purposes were not told that the launch would take place on March 23.