Di Vincenzo Santo*
In a report for an annual parliamentary audit by the South Korean National Assembly’s Defense Committee, the Republic of Korea (ROK) Army announced that it is working on a new surface-to-surface ballistic missile, likely designated Hyunmoo IV, capable of destroying North Korea’s underground military facilities and command centers. The new weapon system, which provides the ROK Army with an advanced pre-emptive strike capability, is designed to inflict “unbearable cost” on North Korea at the outset of hostilities, the army said. “We would use those three types of missiles as the first salvo of the missile strike and concentrate them during the initial phase of war to destroy North Korea’s long-range artillery units and missiles located in ballistic missile operating area,” the report reads. South Korea would need official U.S. approval to develop the new weapon system, dubbed “Frankenmissile” by the media (…) In a bilateral agreement signed in 1979, the United States and South Korea set out guidelines about the specific payload and range of the latter’s domestically developed missiles in order to avoid a regional arms race. These guidelines were updated in 2012. However, while South Korean missiles can have now an extended range of up to 800 kilometers (about 500 miles), the maximum payload remains unchanged at 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds). In a September telephone conversation, U.S. President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart, President Moon Jae-in, agreed in principle to scrap warhead weight limits for South Korean ballistic missiles. The U.S. Department of Defense in consultation with the U.S. Department of State is in the middle of reviewing next steps to accommodate South Korea’s request.
*Generale CA ris