South Korea’s government is denying claims that they have information showing North Korea is working on a new class of missiles to carry tactical nuclear warheads.
On September 23, The Japan Times pointed to a report by JoongAng Ilbo, a South Korean newspaper, which claims that North Korea has test-fired the new missiles three times since August 14. The missiles tested were reportedly “short range … ground-to-ground missiles” capable of carrying the warheads.
JoongAng Ilbo quoted a senior South Korean government official, who said, “We’ve come to the conclusion that the rockets test-fired … are new missiles based on their speeds and altitude.”
These claims were countered by South Korean Defense Ministry official Kim Min-seok: “Our military authorities don’t have intelligence that missiles North Korea recently test-fired can carry tactical nuclear warheads.”
Tensions between North and South Korea have increased following North Korea’s December 2013 fax warning of a potential strike against the South. This was followed by what were believed to be strategic nuclear tests and, on March 31, an exchange of hundreds of artillery shells between North and South Korea. This, in turn, has led to a strengthening of the military relationship between South Korea and the United States.
One aspect of that strengthened relationship is the creation of a joint South Korea/U.S. military unit, formed to take out North Korean nukes in the event of war. AFP reports that this unit “will have a joint office of U.S. and South Korean staff in Uijeongbu, north of Seoul, where the U.S. 2nd Infantry Division guards a strategically important area as a deterrent to an invasion by North Korea.”
Should war erupt, “a mechanized South Korean brigade will join forces with the [U.S. 2nd Infantry]” to take out North Korean nukes.
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