South Korea to bolster defenses against North
HIROSHI MINEGISHI, Nikkei staff writer
SEOUL -- The South Korean government and the ruling Saenuri Party agreed in a Tuesday meeting here to speed up efforts to beef up the country's defense against North Korea's nuclear threat, the party said later that day.
The South Korean military is developing a three-pronged defense approach against possible nuclear and conventional missile attacks by its northern neighbor.
In the first stage, the so-called "Kill Chain" pre-emptive strike system is expected to detect signs of an impending missile launch and attack North Korea's nuclear and missile facilities with cruise missiles and other weapons. The second stage kicks in if a missile is launched -- the Korea Air and Missile Defense, or KAMD, system is expected to protect the country against incoming missiles. The third stage involves "Korea Massive Punishment & Retaliation," or KMPR, a military action plan that calls for the use of special forces and other military assets to retaliate against the North Korean leadership in Pyongyang in case of a missile attack.
Under the existing timetable, the measures would not be put in place until the mid-2020s, but the agreement brings that forward to the beginning of the 2020s. The meeting also saw the Saenuri Party urge the government to actively consider an early deployment of nuclear submarines as a deterrent against submarine-launched ballistic missiles, which North Korea is said to be developing. The Ministry of National Defense said in response that it will cautiously examine the issue.
General Lee Sun-jin, chairman of South Korea's Join Chiefs of Staff, said during a parliamentary meeting Oct. 7 that the country needs to actively consider developing a nuclear submarine. But such a move likely requires discussions with the U.S., which plays a vital role in South Korea's defense.
The meeting followed an apparent failed missile launch test by North Korea on Saturday, which drew fierce criticism from the United Nations Security Council. Accelerated development of nuclear and missile technologies by Pyongyang has raised the anxiety level in South Korea.