South Korea, already unshackled, overtakes North Korea by developing nuclear-weapon-class missiles[박용한 배틀그라운드]

South Korea will soon surpass North Korea’s missile capabilities. South Korea has been bound by the “missile guidelines” for the past 42 years, but North Korea has developed an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range exceeding 10,000 km to hit the US mainland. The submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) is also nearing completion.

South Korea’s missile development shackles completely lifted
Successful development of nuclear-weapon-class missiles
U.S. ‘bypass tactic’ aimed at China’s containment

The opportunity for a turnaround has come. The shackles of the maximum range of missiles that have entrapped South Korea have been lifted. President Moon Jae-in said, “I am delighted to announce the end of the missile guidelines,” after a summit meeting with President Joe Biden at the White House on the 21st (local time).

A North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) class Hwasong-15 (left) and a South Korean military Hyunmoo-2A ballistic missile. Photo Yonhap News, Defense Daily.

South Korea has already succeeded in developing a de facto nuclear weapon-level missile. The Hyunmoo-4 (tentative name), which was test-fired in March last year, was designed to hit the target at a speed of Mach 10 (12,240 km/h) or higher. When it falls to the ground, its instantaneous power reaches 1㏏ TNT, which is the level of a tactical nuclear weapon (power when detonating 1000 tons of TNT).

Consider the destructive force created when a meteorite collides with the Earth. The payload capacity of the warhead is about 2 tons, but a small amount of gunpowder is added and most of it is filled with heavy metals. I got a clue from the ‘Wand of God’, which was developed and stopped by the US. It is a concept to destroy a target with kinetic energy by dropping a 9.5t tungsten stick from a satellite to the ground.

A scene of the test launch of a sub-surface cruise missile.  This missile is a modified Hyunmoo-3, a surface-to-surface cruise missile.  South Korea will soon introduce a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). [국방부 유튜브 계정 캡처]

A scene of the test launch of a sub-surface cruise missile. This missile is a modified Hyunmoo-3, a surface-to-surface cruise missile. South Korea will soon introduce a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). [국방부 유튜브 계정 캡처]

Although it succeeded in developing a strategic weapon like this, it did not show it proudly. President Moon visited the Defense Science Research Institute (ADD) in July last year and said that he had succeeded in developing a ballistic missile with the world’s highest warhead weight, but failed to name the specific missile.

Successful development of nuclear weapons-class missiles

Now you can start developing missiles without having to notice. Technical skills are sufficient. In the meantime, while following the guidelines, it has quietly strengthened its internality. It can now be developed by freely increasing the maximum range and warhead weight.

The Hyunmoo-2A ballistic missile is being launched off the east coast at dawn on September 4, 2017. The Joint Chiefs of Staff said on the same day that it was “a strong warning against North Korea’s sixth nuclear test.” photo Ministry of Defense.

Under the supervision of ADD, it succeeded in developing both ballistic missiles (Hyunmoo-2A·B·C) and cruise missiles (Hyunmoo-3A·B·C). The range of ballistic missiles is 300 km, 500 km, and 800 km, respectively, and cruise missiles are 500 km, 1000 km and 1500 km, respectively, which is sufficient to respond to any part of North Korea.

Hyunmoo-2B ballistic missile test-fired at Anheung Comprehensive Test Site in June 2015.  Photo National Defense Science Institute.

Hyunmoo-2B ballistic missile test-fired at Anheung Comprehensive Test Site in June 2015. Photo National Defense Science Institute.

You can hit the fire button right now. Practical deployment has also been completed. In September 2017, when North Korea conducted a nuclear test, the government launched an armed demonstration with a test launch of a Hyunmoo missile. A military official said, “After the test launch, we ordered additional missiles from a defense company to fill the reduced quantity.”

Hyunmoo missile developed by the Korean military.  Graphic = Reporter Kim Joo-won zoom@joongang.co.kr

Hyunmoo missile developed by the Korean military. Graphic = Reporter Kim Joo-won zoom@joongang.co.kr

South Korea’s cruise missile development has also reached a world-class level. Only South Korea, the United States, Russia and Israel succeeded in developing cruise missiles with a range exceeding 1500 km. It can be mounted on naval submarines as well as land-launched. Secret daggers such as poison stings can be hidden in the deep sea.

US surprised by Park Chung-hee’s development of nuclear weapons

The Missile Guideline between South Korea and the United States is not a treaty, but has been followed for a smooth alliance. The guidelines began in October 1979. ADD started a secret missile development plan in 1971 under the direction of President Park Chung-hee. In September 1978, South Korea’s first ballistic missile, the White Bear, took to the sky.

Immediately after the successful launch of Korea's first surface-to-surface missile Baekgom at Anheung Test Site in South Chungcheong Province on September 26, 1978, President Park Chung-hee listens to an explanation of the fuselage from officials at the National Defense Science Research Institute next to the missile.  JoongAng Photo

Immediately after the successful launch of Korea’s first surface-to-surface missile Baekgom at Anheung Test Site in South Chungcheong Province on September 26, 1978, President Park Chung-hee listens to an explanation of the fuselage from officials at the National Defense Science Research Institute next to the missile. JoongAng Photo

However, the United States was concerned that South Korea would develop missiles equipped with nuclear weapons. South Korea, which has been checked, agreed to guidelines that limit the range of 180 km and the weight of the warhead to 500 kg, as a condition of receiving missile technology from the United States.

The development of missiles, which had stalled, resumed in 1986 with the successful development of the Hyunmoo missile. It first appeared on Armed Forces Day on October 1, 1987.

On August 29, 2017, when North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile, the Ministry of National Defense released a video of the Hyunmoo-2C electrification flight test of the '800km ballistic missile' conducted on the 24th a few days earlier.  photo Ministry of Defense.

On August 29, 2017, when North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile, the Ministry of National Defense released a video of the Hyunmoo-2C electrification flight test of the ‘800km ballistic missile’ conducted on the 24th a few days earlier. photo Ministry of Defense.

When the river and mountain changed twice, the guidelines also changed. The maximum range was increased to 300 km under the Kim Dae-jung administration in January 2001. If the warhead weight is reduced to less than 500 kg, a ‘trade-off’ that increases the range proportionally was also applied. In October 2012, the Lee Myung-bak administration increased the maximum range to 800 km.

In November 2017, the Moon Jae-in government reached an agreement to maintain the 800 km range of ballistic missiles but not limit the weight of the warhead. On the 21st, South Korea and the US also completely lifted the range limit. Missile guidelines have disappeared into history.

North Korean ICBMs Can Hit U.S.

The period when North Korea jumped into missile development is similar to that of South Korea. In the late 1970s, it began development based on the former Soviet Scud B missile (range of 340 km). In 1981, the missile was brought from Egypt, dismantled, and reverse engineered to secure the technology. It continued to develop Hwasong-6 (Scud C, 500 km) and Hwasong-7 (Nodong, 1,300 km) missiles capable of striking the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

What kind of North Korean missiles pose a threat to the US?  Graphic = Reporter Kim Joo-won zoom@joongang.co.kr

What kind of North Korean missiles pose a threat to the US? Graphic = Reporter Kim Joo-won zoom@joongang.co.kr

After North Korean leader Kim Jong-un took power in December 2011, the development of missiles accelerated. In November 2017, the company succeeded in developing the Hwasong-15, which has a maximum range of 10 times and can fly up to 13,000 km. The whole of the United States, including Florida, is being targeted. North Korea expressed satisfaction by calling it ‘a great event in November’.

When the unit that led the ICBM appeared at the military parade in October last year, it was also introduced as “the pinnacle of the military parade.” “It is a time to show the power of Joseon,” he said proudly. On the same day, a new ICBM larger than the previous one was also unveiled. It is estimated that the weight of the warhead was increased and a ‘multi-warhead missile (MIRV)’ was mounted inside the warhead.

A new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) with a phrase that looked like “Bukguksong-5s (Siot)” appeared at the parade commemorating the 8th Party Congress in Pyongyang, North Korea, in January.  The length of the fuselage was similar to that of the 'Bukgukseong-4ㅅ' (below), which was unveiled at the military parade to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Party on October 10 last year, while the warhead was enlarged.  Photo captured by Chosun Central TV.

A new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) with a phrase that looked like “Bukguksong-5s (Siot)” appeared at the parade commemorating the 8th Party Congress in Pyongyang, North Korea, in January. The length of the fuselage was similar to that of the ‘Bukgukseong-4ㅅ’ (below), which was unveiled at the military parade to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Party on October 10 last year, while the warhead was enlarged. Photo captured by Chosun Central TV.

North Korea has now entered the SLBM development stage. At a military parade in January, the new SLBM, ‘Bukguksong-5’, was first unveiled. The warhead size has been increased compared to the Pukguksong-4, which is similar to the Chinese JL-2 (Jurang-2, range 7000~8000km), which was introduced three months earlier at the military parade in October last year as “the world’s strongest weapon, an underwater strategic ballistic missile.”

America’s ‘circumvention strategy’ aimed at holding China in check

The disappearance of the missile guidelines that bound South Korea will benefit the United States as well. In 2019, the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) was abolished. It means that the missile race between the US and Russia has resumed. China, which has grown in national power since 1987, when the agreement was signed, also entered the competition.

A scenario for the deployment of intermediate-range missiles by the United States in the event of a conflict between China and the Korean Peninsula.  Graphic = Reporter Kim Joo-won zoom@joongang.co.kr

A scenario for the deployment of intermediate-range missiles by the United States in the event of a conflict between China and the Korean Peninsula. Graphic = Reporter Kim Joo-won zoom@joongang.co.kr

The U.S. has carefully considered the deployment of medium-range missiles to its allies such as South Korea, Japan, and Europe, but none of its allies have offered to accept the missiles. This is because, in the midst of a confrontation between the United States and China and the United States and Russia, if the United States deploys missiles, it becomes the front line.

South Korea’s development of long-range missiles is a detour strategy for the US. If Korea develops its own power, it gives power to the United States. If the range of the South Korean military’s ballistic missiles is increased to 1,000 km, it can reach Beijing, China from Jeju Island. If the range is more than 2000 km, it can also respond to inland China. Although Japan is leading the development of space rockets, it does not develop or possess missiles, which are its representative offensive weapons.

The Dongfeng-41, a next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range of up to 15,000 km, was first launched at a military parade held at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of China (the 1st) in October 2019. appeared as  Photo EPA.

The Dongfeng-41, a next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) with a range of up to 15,000 km, was first launched at a military parade held at Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of China (the 1st) in October 2019. appeared as Photo EPA.

The establishment of a Korean military strategy company must be accelerated

It is pointed out that the establishment of the Strategic Command (Strategic History), a promise made by President Moon during the presidential election, should be resumed. The strategist is tasked with striking the North Korean command center and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) in case of emergency to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. However, with the 2018 inter-Korean summit as an opportunity, discussions on the establishment of the establishment were abandoned.

The strategic company plans to integrate and operate the nuclear and WMD response systems (the old three-axis system) scattered across the land, sea, and air forces. It was to lead the precision strikes carried out by the Air Force F-35 stealth fighters, the missile operations of the Army Missile Command and the special forces special forces brigade (beheading force) missions, and the strategic operation of the naval submarines loaded with missiles.

Reporter Park Yong-han park.yonghan@joongang.co.kr

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