Posted : 2017-06-23 17:13
Updated : 2017-06-23 19:13
President Moon Jae-in speaks to government and military officials after observing the test-firing of a new home-grown ballistic missile at the Anheung test site of the Agency for Defense Development in Taean, South Chungcheong Province, Friday. Moon's spokesman said the President's visit to the site is to send a strong message to North Korea over its repeated provocations. / Courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae
By Jun Ji-hye
President Moon Jae-in observed the test-firing of the nation's new ballistic missile with a maximum range of 800 kilometers, Friday, sending a strong warning to North Korea over its provocations.
The test of a Hyunmoo-type ballistic missile, which puts the whole of North Korea within striking distance, took place at the Anheung test site of the Agency for Defense Development (ADD) under the wing of the Ministry of National Defense in Taean, South Chungcheong Province.
"The missile fell precisely onto a designated target after flying a prearranged distance," presidential spokesman Park Soo-hyun said at a media briefing.
A Hyunmoo-type ballistic missile with a maximum range of 800 kilometers is launched from a mobile launch vehicle during a test-firing observed by President Moon Jae-in at the Anheung test site of the Agency for Defense Development in Taean, South Chungcheong Province, Friday. / Courtesy of Cheong Wa Dae
As core assets forming the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike system, the new strategic weapons will be used to attack the North's nuclear and missile facilities in the event of war, Park noted.
The military plans to complete the development of the new missile and deploy it by the end of the year.
Spokesman Park said the latest test was the fourth of its kind. "The new missile will be operationally deployed after two more test-firings," he said.
President Moon said his visit to the test site was meaningful in that the people as well as the President could affirm the nation's missile capabilities amid the North's evolving missile threats.
"The people are now convinced South Korea is not behind the North in missile capabilities," Park quoted Moon as saying. "I am an advocate of dialogue with the North, but pushing for such dialogue and engaging Pyongyang will be only possible when the nation has strong national defense, which overwhelms that of the North."
Park said there had been some concerns over Moon's visit to the test site as it could provoke the Kim Jong-un regime and complicate the situation ahead of the South Korea-U.S. summit scheduled for next week.
"The first vice chief of the National Security Office was originally planning to supervise the test-firing, but after receiving a report, Moon showed willingness to observe it in person," Park said.
If the new missile is fired from the southern resort island of Jeju, it is theoretically capable of reaching Sinuiju, a North Korean city bordering China. If fired from Pohang, North Gyeongsang Province, the missile can reach anywhere in North Korea.
The military has been developing ballistic missiles with extended firing ranges since Seoul and Washington revised the guidelines on such weapons for the South in October 2012. The revision allowed Seoul to extend the maximum range of its missiles to 800 kilometers from the previous limit of 300 kilometers.
South Korea is currently operating Hyunmoo 2A and 2B short-range ballistic missiles with maximum ranges of 300 and 500 kilometers, respectively; and Hyunmoo 3 cruise missiles with a range of 1,000 kilometers.
Observers expect the new missile to be named the Hyunmoo 2C.
The North has conducted five missile provocations since Moon was sworn in, May 10, including a test-firing of a new type of anti-ship cruise missile, June 8.
Before this, Pyongyang fired a Scud-type ballistic missile from Wonsan, May 29, which was later assessed as an anti-ship ballistic missile. At the time, the North claimed the missile featured a new high-precision guidance system and a faster launch process.
The Kim Jong-un regime also fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile on May 14, a medium-range ballistic missile May 21 and a KN-06 surface-to-air guided missile May 27.