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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

South Korean Long Range Missiles

The United States and South Korea struck a new deal on long range missiles which would allow Seoul to deploy longer-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting targets in all of North Korea, Yonhap news agency reported on 08 October 2012. “The agreement, known as the ‘missile guideline,’ calls for extending the maximum range of South Korean ballistic missiles from the current 300 kilometers to 800 kilometers, a distance long enough to reach the northern tip of North Korea,” the agency quoted presidential security aide Chun Yung-woo as saying. Under the new agreement, South Korea can load ballistic missile warheads heavier than the prior limit of 500 kilograms, providing the ranges decreases in proportion, while warheads of up to 1.5 tons can be put on missiles if the range remains at 300 km. The deal also increases the maximum payload for a South Korean unmanned aerial vehicle to 2.5 tons from the current 500 kilograms.

Under an agreement with Washington in 1972, Seoul agreed to set its missile range ceiling at 180 km in exchange for US missile technology. Through reverse-engineering of US-supplied missiles, South Korea produced two versions of a two-stage, solid-fuel SSM based on the US Nike Hercules surface-to-air missile: NHK-1 (180 km/500 kg) and NHK-2 (260 kn/450 kg). South Korea also produced a variant of the Honest John heavy artillery rocket (37 km/500 kg). A cluster warhead system was sold to South Korea in 1977 but most countries had phased out this weapon by the 1980s.

Unlike the systematic and ambitious missile development of North Korea, South Korea has proceeded with the support and under the control of the US. South Korea's missile development started during the later years of former President Park Chung-Hee with an aim to reduce the gap in missile capability between the both Koreas.

Nike-Hercules, the American missile deployed in South Korea, was used as a model for development. With poor foundation in industrial technologies, South Korea requested US support for related equipment and technology, but could not get the agreement of the US Department of State. This forced South Korea to seek a different route to import missile technology. Recognizing the intention of South Korea, the US urged the South Korean government to sign a written agreement that South Korea should not develop missiles over a certain range.

Considering the important relationship between South Korea and the US, the South Korean government agreed to restraints on the range and payload of missiles when developing the first South Korean ground-to-ground missile called Baekkom / Baek Gom [almost never Paekgom] (White Bear). Since then, the US applied stricter restraints (180 km/500 kg) than the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) on South Korea. The Paekgom was test-launched successfully in 1978, but was never deployed in actual service at to the request of the US.

North Korea test-fired its Taepodong-1 missile, with an estimated range of more than 1,300 km, in August 1998. Subsequently, in 1999 Seoul asked Washington to agree to extend South Korea's missile range to 300km for deployment and to 500 km for scientific research and development.

The ROK-US missile guidelines deal with mutual cooperation in missiles, but at the same time restricted the range of ROK missiles. When signed in the 1970s, the guidelines restricted the ROK's missile capacity to a 180 kilometer range and with a 500 kilogram payload. In 2001, the missile pact was renegotiated to extend the permitted range of missiles to 300 kilometers. While the guidelines have hampered the ROK from enhancing its missile capabilities, North Korea emerged as a missile power. In the early 1980s, North Korea began to manufacture Scud missiles and successfully deployed 600 Scud B's with a range of 300km and Scud C's with a range of 500km, and 200 Rodong missiles with a range of 1,300km. (Chosun Ilbo, July 8, 2009, page 35)

Oct. 8, 2012 South Korea and the U.S. have agreed on a revision of the ballistic missile guidelines, which were last revised 11 years ago, including extending the range of the missile from 300 kilometers to 800 kilometers (186 miles to 497miles). The Korean government attributed the agreed drastically increased missile capacity to the closest ever partnership between the two countries in general and solid trust between the presidents of the two in particular. It was believed that it was thanks to the closest ever bilateral ties between the two nations that in the process of the missile negotiation what the Korean side wants was reflected at an optimum level, although it is a very sensitive issue in international politics.

It was known that whenever the missile negotiations reached a deadlock, President Lee Myung-bak made every effort to initiate the talks between the two sides, making the maximum use of his talks with U.S. President Barack Obama. Despite disagreement among experts, President Lee persuaded President Obama to have him make a political decision allowing Korea to develop its longer-range ballistic missiles.

With a heightened need to establish a response force against the enemy's WMD following North Korea's third nuclear test, the Ministry of National Defense (MND) officially announced that it independently developed a cruise missile that can strike all areas in North Korea and has fielded these missiles.

On 13 February 2013, the MND stated, "We have independently developed and fielded cruise missiles, possessing the precision and destructive power matching the world's best missiles, that can strike any target in North Korea in a moment's notice. We plan to disclose the details of this missile in the near future." The MND also announced, "We will accelerate the process of developing an 800km ballistic missile, which puts the entire North Korea within its range, based on the new missile guidance" and re-emphasized its plan to field this new ballistic missile as soon as possible.

In addition, the MND explained, "In order to enable the real-time utilization of our military's missile capabilities, we will exert our efforts to establish the 'kill chain,' which is a system that will allow the detection, identification, decision-making, and strike process to be initiated in a seamless and immediate manner, at the earliest time possible."

Once the ROK military possesses ballistic missiles with a longer range along with the current cruise missiles whose destructive power has been enhanced, it will be possible to carry out a preemptive strike against North Korean missiles or WMD before they are launched. The ROK military plans to establish the Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) which will be designed to intercept those North Korean missiles in air that have not been taken out by the ROK's cruise and ballistic missiles.After disclosing these plans, the MND emphasized, "Our military will continue to maintain a firm readiness posture based on these capabilities, and we will resolutely respond to any military provocation committed by North Korea. Our military has the resolve and the capability to firmly punish North Korea if they carry out additional provocations."

Meanwhile, the ROK military is closely monitoring North Korea's movements while placing special interest on the possibility of another provocation by North Korea. In particular, we are conducting close surveillance activities on any movements related to additional nuclear tests by fully employing the combined surveillance assets of the ROK and the US. With regard to this situation, an MND official added, "The MND-JCS Joint Crisis Management Task Force that we have been operating has been elevated to a major general led organization. We are also preparing against possible enemy fires provocations, enemy infiltration into our rear area, and acts of terror against key national facilities."

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