The three-ton missile is designed to destroy underground facilities by penetrating tunnels, thereby effectively preventing nuclear launches.
According to Yonhap News Agency, South Korea is in the final stages of developing a surface-to-surface ballistic missile as powerful as a tactical nuclear warhead, as the country announced a budget proposal aimed at strengthening its defenses against North Korea.
According to a report released on Thursday, this new weapon can carry warheads weighing up to 3 tons and can fly 350 to 400 kilometers (217 to 248 miles).
The missile is designed to destroy underground missile facilities and bases by penetrating underground tunnels, thereby effectively eliminating nuclear ballistic missiles and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) before launch. The report stated that if launched from near the border between North Korea and South Korea, it can also reach all areas of North Korea.
The project continued after the United States completely lifted restrictions on missile development.
The South Korean government said in a statement: “We will develop stronger, longer-range, and more accurate missiles to play a deterrent effect and achieve security and peace on the Korean peninsula.”
In the national defense blueprint for the period from 2022 to 2026, the Ministry of National Defense stated that it will develop new missiles with “significantly enhanced destructive power”, upgrade the missile defense system and deploy new interceptors to counter long-range artillery.
This missile will be the latest in the tit-for-tat conventional missile race between North Korea and South Korea.
In 2020, South Korea announced that its new Hyunmoo-4 short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) can carry a 2-ton warhead, and in March, North Korea tested an SRBM that is said to provide a 2.5-ton payload. Hyunmoo-4 is South Korea’s largest missile.
The Ministry of Defense stated: “After the guidelines are terminated, we will deter potential threats and improve our ability to strike at major targets.”
Analysts, diplomats, and military officials say that before the end of this decade, Asia will be flooded with conventional missiles that fly farther, faster, more powerfully, and more advanced than ever before—this is the past few years. An obvious and dangerous change has come.
South Korea does not have strategic nuclear weapons. But for warheads weighing 3 tons, well, if used, they will ruin someone’s day.
— John Lee (@koreanforeigner) September 2, 2021
Overall, South Korea’s defense blueprint requires 315.2 trillion won (US$273 billion) to be spent over the next five years, an average year-on-year increase of 5.8%, as it continues to strengthen its defenses under the threat of Pyongyang.
On Friday, an International Atomic Energy Agency reported that it had found “deeply disturbing” signs that a key nuclear reactor at North Korea’s main complex in Yongbyon had been in operation since July.
South Korea’s Ministry of Defense stated that in order to “stop long-range provocations,” the country will “significantly increase the number of interceptors for medium- and long-range missiles” because it seeks to develop its own interception system, similar to the iron dome in Israel.
It said that in order to better detect such threats across the Korean peninsula, the military will deploy additional missile early warning radar systems and strengthen its surveillance capabilities.
The defense plan also seeks to expand Seoul’s presence in space, focusing on the deployment of new radar systems to monitor space objects in the early 2030s.
At the same time, its navy also plans to build more submarines of 3,000 tons or more and replace aging frigates with new frigates with improved combat capabilities and combat capabilities.