Seoul, April 11 (IANS) South Korea’s missile defense system may intercept North Korean missiles, if they are to strike South Korean territory, the defence ministry said Thursday.
“We have Patriot missiles. The missiles cannot cover all the nationwide territory, but if (North Korea’s missiles) come within the area of our coverage, we can strike down (those missiles),” Kim Min-seok, spokesman at the Ministry of National Defence, said at a press briefing.
South Korea is currently operating the Patriot Advanced Capability (PAC)-2 missile defence program, which has the capability to shoot down missiles and aircraft at the altitude of 30 km, reported Xinhua.
“Our military is holding the full readiness posture on concerns that North Korea’s missiles can threaten the safety of our territory and nationals,” Kim said.
Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told lawmakers Wednesday that North Korea would highly likely test launch mid-range missiles “at any time from now on”. Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said 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 km and reach the US military base in Guam, were believed to be mounted on mobile launchers known as the transporter-erector-launcher (TEL).
It is feared that the missiles may fired around April 15 when Pyongyang celebrates the birthday of Kim Il-sung, North Korea’s founder and the late grandfather of the current leader Kim Jung-un.
Regarding the possibility of launch of 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, North Korea 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 km, with the range for Nodong missiles estimated at 1,300-1,500 km.
“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.