South Korea’s army has said it is confident it can quickly neutralise North Korea’s front-line artillery systems in the event of a war on the Korean peninsula.
The military assessment may provide some comfort to residents of the capital, Seoul, situated just 35 miles from the North Korea border, and which Pyongyang has threatened to turn into a “sea of fire.”
South Korea is at risk of staggering numbers of casualties even without the use of weapons of mass destruction, from the thousands of artillery pieces the North has situated along the border. Worst-case scenarios predict that more than 100,000 could die within just 48 hours.
But in a report to the National Assembly on Monday, the army presented a three-tier missile strike plan that it would deploy in the early stages of an armed conflict to destroy the North’s artillery threat, according to news agency Yonhap.
Army chiefs revealed they would first use a tactical surface-to-surface missile, called KTSSM but nicknamed ‘artillery killer’, to strike the camouflaged and embedded artillery equipment along the demilitarised zone and on the coast of border islands.
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“KTSSM-I will strike the enemy’s tunnels with the 170-mm self propelled howitzers and 240-mm multiple-rocket launch systems,” read the report. The same missile would be used to attack SCUD missile facilities and 300-mm rocket launchers, it added.
The army disclosed that it also plans to fire Hyunmoo-II ballistic missiles, with a range of up to 500 miles, against the North’s nuclear and other WMD systems.
Finally, the South Korean military is seeking to acquire more powerful ballistic missiles, known as the Hyunmoo-IV, to target the pariah state’s leadership.
Graphic: The military build-up
Seoul is in the process of upgrading its armory after reaching a deal with Washington to double the maximum payload on its ballistic missile to up to 500kg.
The US Navy is currently conducting joint military drills with South Korea in another show of force against dictator Kim Jong-un’s ongoing nuclear and missile programme.