By Alex Jensen
South Korea is strengthening its ability to cope with any potential North Korean attack by increasing the volume and sophistication of its missile defenses, according to sources cited by local media Sunday.
Ahead of upcoming joint military drills involving the South and its ally the United States this month, Pyongyang accused Washington Saturday of planning to “invade” the North.
A statement released by the reclusive state’s KCNA news agency threatened “to deal a merciless and annihilating blow to the enemy if they make even the slightest provocation”.
North Korea also recently stated its opposition to the planned deployment of American missile defense system THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) in South Korea by the end of next year.
While Seoul and Washington are accustomed to threats out of Pyongyang, the South is apparently moving to enhance its defensive posture.
Government insiders cited by South Korean news agency Yonhap revealed that Seoul is preparing to be able to “take out missile bases all across North Korea in times of crisis”.
As part of the plan, the South is to boost its armory of indigenous short-range ballistic missiles — given that Pyongyang is known to have around 1,000 projectiles at its disposal and continues to defy United Nations resolutions by testing missiles of various kinds.
One of the THAAD criticisms is that the system would still leave South Korea vulnerable to an attack at close range, and Seoul’s defense ministry made clear last month it wishes to diversify its defense options.
With nearly 30,000 American troops stationed in the South, another welcome source of support – according to Yonhap’s “military sources” – is U.S. technology to stop the North from jamming GPS-guided bombs.
Seoul has repeatedly noted North Korean GPS jamming efforts, which have so far only been a concern for aircraft or vessels close to the inter-Korean border.
From next month, South Korea will reportedly be in a position to use its own GPS-guided bombs without interference from the North.