North Korea isn’t the only one with missiles on the Korean peninsula. South Korea on Wednesday tested a new ballistic missile that can hit all of North Korea, developed under a new agreement with the United States that lets the South extend the weapon’s range to 500 miles.
In the latest sign that South Korea is fed up with coddling its bellicose neighbor, president Park Geun-hye made a rare visit to a missile base to watch the launch of the guided missile. The new weapons system will play a key role in the South’s defense against its neighbor’s nuclear and missile threat, her office stated.
“The test demonstrated improved ballistic missile capability that can strike all parts of North Korea swiftly, and with precision, in the event of armed aggression or provocation,” the president’s office said in a statement.
The test comes after North Korea claimed it test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile though most experts and U.S. military leaders doubted the authenticity of the North’s claim.
The new South Korean missile was developed under a new agreement with the United States, signed in 2012, to more than double the range of the South’s missiles in order to overcome its disadvantage with Pyongyang’s missile capabilities.
South Korea has historically been a pacifist nation, going out of its way to befriend its hostile neighbor and not escalate tensions. With this policy the South had purposely not developed missile or weapons systems that would provoke the North and trigger an arms race.
The North Korea’s insistence on increased militarization, bellicose rhetoric and provocative actions have led to popular opinion in South Korea changing, favoring a more aggressive stance towards its neighbor.
The North has a wide array of missiles and is thought to be developing an intercontinental ballistic missile armed with nuclear weapons.
North Korea successfully launched a long-range rocket in 2012, putting what it claimed was a satellite into orbit. While the North called it a space launch vehicle, the launch was viewed as a thinly veiled test of an intercontinental ballistic missile and led to stiff sanctions.