The latest threat

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The latest threat

It is shocking to learn that the five rockets North Korea fired into the East Sea from its east coast on Monday turned out to have been launched from a 300-millimeter (1-foot) multiple-rocket launcher, an advanced type of artillery that can hit targets as far as 200 kilometers (124 miles). The new type of rockets can reach not only U.S. military bases in Pyeongtaek and Osan in Gyeonggi, but also Gyeryongdae, a military complex and tri-services headquarters of our Armed Forces. But we don’t have effective means to intercept them.

The existence of the dangerous weapon was uncovered by the JoongAng Ilbo four years ago. In a scoop, the paper reported that North Korea had developed 300-millimeter multiple-rocket launchers with a much longer range than before to target the U.S. base in Pyeongtaek. At the time, the JoongAng Ilbo pointed out the need to cope with such an alarming threat, but the Ministry of National Defense merely denied what the paper had discovered.

Because multiple-rocket launchers can move on trucks, it is nearly impossible to detect any signs of attack in advance. You can’t intercept them because they fly at low altitudes. That’s why 240-millimeter multiple-rocket launchers with a range of 90 kilometers developed by the North in the 1980s were their most effective weapon to attack the Seoul metropolitan area.

The new rocket launcher has double the range and is also capable of precision shelling thanks to a satellite guidance system. It poses a formidable threat to our security as it can fire 12 rockets simultaneously, a big contrast with launchers that take a much longer time to reload.

If North Korea succeeded in developing the new rocket launcher in 2012, a considerable number of them must be already deployed along the 156-mile border. In other words, the North’s threat to destroy the Blue House in a second may not be mere bluff.

Our “Kill Chain” system to be established in the mid-2020s to destroy North Korean missiles before they are launched, the Korea Air and Missile Defense, or KAMD, system to counter North Korean missiles and nuclear weapons, and the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or Thaad, system cannot prevent new rocket attacks. Such defensive weapons can hardly ensure our safety.

Our government must consider augmentation of asymmetrical war capabilities strong enough to inflict even bigger damage to the North. Only that will force the North to give up on the new rocket attacks.

JoongAng Ilbo, March 24, Page 30

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