South Korea is reportedly looking to develop a ballistic missile with warhead capabilities in response to North Korea’s recent nuclear activities. The projectile would have to be strong enough to effectively neutralize Pyongyang’s wartime command and underground military facilities.
According to the Korea Herald, the ground-to-ground missile Seoul is mulling over would be capable of carrying 2 tons of warheads to North Korea. This comes only a day after South Korean President Moon Jae-in spoke with US President Donald Trump over the phone, during which they agreed that restrictions on South Korean missile payloads would be lifted.
Afterward, Moon said, “It is crucial to come up with powerful and practical measures that can make North Korea realize [the impact of its actions].”
According to a White House Monday press release, “Both leaders underscored the grave threat that North Korea’s latest provocation poses to the entire world. The two leaders agreed to maximize pressure on North Korea using all means at their disposal. They also pledged to strengthen joint military capabilities.”
North Korea’s detonation of a purported hydrogen bomb Sunday has caused South Korea to redouble its efforts to enhance deterrence measures, as Pyongyang’s nuclear tests indicate a desire to affix nuclear warheads to its its short — and medium-range missiles.
Critics have questioned the effectiveness of the South’s missile guidelines, as they were previously prohibited form fitting its missiles with warheads weighing more than 500 kilograms or exceeding an 800-kilometer range.
Korea National Defense University professor Kwon Yong-soo said that developing a missile with a 2-ton payload “would dramatically boost South Korea’s retaliation capability against North Korea … With a 1-ton warhead ballistic missile, South Korea could target almost all of North Korea’s underground facilities.”
Missiles are not the only new response Seoul is preparing to North Korean threats. On December 1, South Korea will work with SEAL Team Six and other US special warfare units to establish a special brigade tasked with carrying out a “decapitation strike” against the North’s leadership, including supreme leader Kim Jong-un.
The strike is part of a three-axis military campaign designed to disable the North’s leadership. Called “Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation,” it would respond to an imminent nuclear attack with cruise and ballistic missiles.
As tensions on the Korean Peninsula reach a white heat, Moon has encouraged military readiness against North Korean provocation, though he has called for diplomacy in the past.
NK News quoted Moon in late August telling top military officials to “strongly push ahead with a reform of the military structure to meet [the requirements] of modern warfare so that it can immediately switch to offensive operations in case North Korea makes a provocation that crosses the line or attacks a metropolitan area.”
Defense Minister Song Young-moo said Monday that South Korean forces are “in the process of conceptualizing the plan,” voicing his confidence that the unit will be operational by the first of December.