April 11, 2013
South Korea’s missile defense system may intercept missiles possibly launched by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) if they are to strike the South Korean territory, the defense ministry said Thursday.
“We have Patriot missiles. The missiles cannot cover all the nationwide territory, but if (the DPRK’s missiles) come within the area of our coverage, we can strike down (those missiles),” Kim Min-seok, spokesman at the Ministry of National Defense, said at a press briefing.
South Korea is currently operating the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-2 missile defense program, which has the capability to shoot down missiles and aircrafts at the altitude of 30 kilometers.
“Our military is holding the full readiness posture on concerns that North Korea (DPRK)’s missiles can threaten the safety of our territory and nationals,” Kim said.
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told lawmakers on Wednesday that the DPRK would highly likely test launch mid-range missiles “at any time from now on.” Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said on April 4 that Pyongyang moved intermediate-range missiles, estimated to be Musudan, to its east coast.
The “Musudan” missiles, which are estimated to have a range of about 3,500 kilometers and reach the U.S. military base in Guam, were believed to be mounted on mobile launchers known as the transporter-erector-launcher (TEL).
The missiles were feared to be fired off around April 15 when Pyongyang celebrates the birthday of Kim Il-sung, the DPRK’s founder and the late grandfather of the current leader Kim Jung-un.
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Regarding the possibility for the DPRK to launch several missiles from different sites, Kim said that “no one knows how many missiles and what kind of missiles North Korea will fire off among Scud, Nodong and Musudan.”
According to government officials cited by Yonhap News Agency, the DPRK was repeatedly moving the relocated Musudan missiles in and out of the facilities that were concealing them in the shed. Around five TELs, estimated to be loaded with Scud and Nodong missiles, were moving from place to place in South Hamgyeong Province.
The Scud missiles are estimated to have a range of between 300 and 500 kilometers, with the range for Nodong missiles estimated at 1,300-1,500 kilometers.
“We cannot rule out the possibility for Scud and Nodong missiles to be launched instead of Musudan given the relocation of missiles,” said an official cited by Yonhap.