June 04, 2015 12:01
President Park Geun-hye looked on as the Agency for Defense Development test-fired a new ballistic missile with a range of more than 500 km in South Chungcheong Province on Wednesday.
The new missile is capable of hitting anywhere in North Korea.
This was the first time since the U.S. relaxed missile controls on South Korea in late 2012 that Seoul has openly test-fired a new missile with a range of more than 500 km.
It was also the first time in 30 years that the president has ever visited the test site.
The missile, dubbed Hyunmu-2B, is to be part of South Korea’s own missile defense system that aims to detect and destroy incoming enemy missiles in the air.
A Defense Ministry official said, "We can't disclose the exact range, but we can say it can hit anywhere in the North."
South Korea was limited to 300 km in range for its ballistic missiles under Seoul-Washington missile guidelines from 2001, but the range was extended to 800 km in 2012.
Since last year, the military has successfully tested several missiles with a range of 500 km.
"It's still too early to test-fire a missile with a range of 800 km," a military source said. "The latest test is similar to a secret test we conducted last year."
Military authorities are expected to deploy missiles with a range of 500 km warfare-ready this year. South Korea's new ballistic missile has a shorter range than the North's Rodong and Musudan missiles, which can fly between 1,300 and 4,000 km, but is reportedly more accurate.
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