The South Korean military said it has succeeded in test-firing a ballistic missile with a range of 800 kilometers that can put any North Korean territory within striking range.
According to a high-ranking South Korean official on Thursday, the South Korean military recently test-fired a Hyunmoo-type ballistic missile with a flying range of 800 kilometers at the Anheung test site of the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) under the Defense Ministry.
The official said the missile test observed by Defense Minister Han Min-koo was successful, saying it satisfied all requirements in every key assessment area, including launch, flight and target strike.
However, the missile’s flying distance had to be artificially downscaled in the test due to the space limit. It is the first time Seoul has announced the successful testing of a ballistic missile with a range of 800 kilometers. The military authorities plan to deploy the missile within the year after several more tests.
The newly developed Hyunmoo missile can reach as far as Sinuiju near the North-China borders if launched from South Korea’s southern island Jeju. The coverage expands to the whole North Korean territory if deployed south of the central region of South Korea’s mainland.
It is expected to be a key military asset that can be used to take out North Korea's leadership and nuclear and missile facilities in case of a military conflict on the Korean Peninsula.
Currently, South Korea has three Hyunmoo-type missiles --- Hyunmoo-2A ballistic missile with a range of more than 300 kilometers, Hyunmoo-2B ballistic missile with a range of more than 500 kilometers, and Hyunmoo-3, a cruise missile with a range of more than one-thousand kilometers.
South Korea started developing a medium-range ballistic missile in 2012 when Seoul and Washington revised a bilateral accord that extended the range of South Korean missiles from 300 kilometers to 800 kilometers. The South Korean military tested Hyunmoo-2B in June of 2015. The cruise missiles, such as Hyunmoo-3, are not subject to the missile guidelines.
Military observers say the disclosure of the new Hyunmoo missiles is aimed at sending a
warning to North Korea against possible additional provocations. When the North launched the long-range rocket Unha-3 in April of 2012, the South Korean military disclosed the test launch of the Hyunmoo-3.
Experts say the revelation also signals that South Korea is on the right track of bolstering the Korean Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) plan, an operation aimed at removing top North Korean leaders if the North stages a nuclear attack on the South.
The military said given the lack of indication the North will give up its nuclear ambition, the South Korean military will try to complete the KMPR as soon as possible and enhance its deterrence against the North’s nuclear and missile threats.