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S Korea deploys longer-range missiles against North

An AFP photo

SEOUL (AFP): South Korea has deployed new cruise missiles capable of destroying targets such as missile and nuclear bases anywhere in North Korea, the defence ministry said Thursday.

The ministry released a video clip of the test-launch of the missiles, saying they could hit "any place" in the North.

"With such capabilities, our military will sternly and thoroughly punish reckless provocations by North Korea while maintaining our firm readiness," Major General Shin Won-Sik told reporters.

The ministry gave no details of the range, but Yonhap news agency said the new cruise missile could travel more than 1,000 kilometres.

Cruise missiles are not covered by a US-South Korean agreement limiting the range of the South's ballistic missiles.

The South is pressing to extend the range following North Korea's long-range rocket launch last week.

The two allies are said to be close to agreement on revising the 2001 deal that restricts Seoul's ballistic missile range to 300 kilometres.

The United States stations 28,500 troops in the country and guarantees a nuclear "umbrella" in case of war. In return, Seoul accepts limits on its missile capabilities.

The North has about 600 Scud missiles capable of hitting targets in South Korea, and possibly also of reaching Japanese territory in some cases, according to South Korean military data.

There are another 200 Rodong-1 missiles that could reach Tokyo. In addition the North has three times test-launched long-range Taepodong missiles.

Its April 13 launch -- purportedly to put a satellite into orbit -- failed but the UN Security Council "strongly condemned" the launch.


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