The South Korean Defense Ministry has evidence that North Korea now possesses what is being described as a “large-caliber multiple launch rocket system” that could help them fulfill their repeated promises to “scorch” Seoul’s presidential palace “in a jiffy.”
South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo said Wednesday that he believes North Korea has either completed or neared completion of the construction of a multiple-launch rocket system (MLRS). “Under this assessment, I think North Korea will deploy the 300-mm MLRS as early as the end of this year,” Han announced, referring to the caliber rocket. Han noted that South Korean intelligence had been “closely following the development of the 300-mm MLRS for three years,” and the recent increased frequency with which the system has been tested suggests it has become increasingly successful. South Korean newswire service Yonhap notes that North Korea had announced a final test of the system last month.
Fox News notes that the rockets in question have a 125-mile range – placing half of South Korea, including Seoul, within sight –and that the announcement follows a similar one out of Seoul that they have intelligence suggesting North Korea now has the technology to mount a nuclear warhead on a medium-range missile.
The Pentagon has responded to this declaration with some caution. “We’ve not seen them demonstrate it, so we don’t share that assessment necessarily, but we do accept what they say as a threat we need to take as real,” Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said in response to the announcement.
While North Korea has made something of a habit of firing rockets and missiles into the sea as a form of both testing missile systems and protesting international sanctions against it for its myriad human rights violations against its people, this development is particular concerning for South Korea because of the elevated rhetoric coming out of Pyongyang in recent months. In March, North Korean state media published an article vowing to “scorch the Cheong wa Dae [presidential palace] bossed by Park Geun-hye in a jiffy.”
“All the dens of the enemy in South Korea, including the Cheong wa Dae, are the primary targets of the ultra-precision strike means,” a statement from North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea read.
North Korea also published a video simulating a nuclear attack on Manhattan and Washington, D.C. which also featured an attack on the Cheong wa Dae. Pyongyang had previously threatened a similar attack on the “mainland U.S.”
The frequency and belligerence of North Korea’s rhetoric against the United States and South Korea has become so elevated that the Russian government has warned Pyongyang to tone it down or face a preemptive military strike from the developed world. “Pyongyang should be aware of the fact that in this way the DPRK will become fully opposed to the international community and will create international legal grounds for using military force against itself in accordance with the right of a state to self-defense enshrined in the United Nations Charter,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement in March.
Following Seoul’s warning that North Korea’s military capabilities are advancing, Pyongyang’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) published a story alleging that North Korea is seeking “dialogue” with South Korea, not war. “There is no change in our stance that we seek to open the path toward dialogue with South Korea and better ties,” the article read.
24 hours later, however, the KCNA has returned to its usual aggressive tone, citing an unnamed “spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK)” warning of “worst imbecile” South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s certain death. “The only thing left to be done by Park who is adding thrice-cursed crime to what she has already committed with invectives against the fellow countries even in foreign land like a rabid dog is to meet her death in her Chongwadae office which is kept within the sight of the powerful revolutionary Paektusan army,” the spokesman allegedly said.
“Now all the service personnel and other people of the DPRK are waiting for the final order to blow up Chongwadae,” the spokesman continues.
In addition to its propaganda publications, the KCNA and the Rodong Sinmun newspaper, North Korea has resumed its propaganda dumps over South Korea. According to Yonhap, North Korea dropped 20,000 anti-Seoul leaflets and 40 propaganda CDs across the border on Wednesday.