SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea has added to its arsenal a cruise missile that can hit anywhere in the North, the Defence Ministry announced on Thursday, a day after Pyongyang said it was ready to retaliate in the face of international condemnation over its failed rocket launch.
The reclusive North is widely expected to follow a pattern it set in 2009 with a successive missile and nuclear test by detonating an atomic device in coming weeks, possibly a device using highly enriched uranium for the first time.
North Korea, technically still at war with the South after their 1950-53 conflict ended merely with a truce, has already declared as invalid a deal with Washington to let international inspectors back to its nuclear facilities in return for food aid.
“The (locally made cruise missile) has the capability to hit any facility or personnel in all areas of North Korea in whatever time frame as necessary,” South Korea’s Defence Ministry officer for policy planning, Major General Shin Won-shik, said.
“We’re making this public to underscore our commitment to respond to the North’s missile threat and military provocation.”
North Korea, which the South says has thousands of artillery pieces aimed at Seoul, admitted it had failed to accomplish its goal of putting a satellite into orbit with the launch on Friday, which regional powers believe was a test of its long-range missile.
The U.N. Security Council earlier this week condemned the launch as a violation of existing U.N. sanctions and warned of tough action if Pyongyang went ahead with more missile tests or a nuclear test.
North Korea, marking the 100th anniversary of founder Kim Il-sung, on Sunday put on a huge military parade, showcasing what South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said was a new long-range missile, presumed to be a ballistic missile with a range of up to 6,000 km (3,700 miles).
India on Thursday successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable missile that can reach Beijing and Eastern Europe, thrusting the emerging Asian power into an small club of nations with intercontinental nuclear weapons capabilities.
Only the U.N. Security Council permanent members - China, France, Russia the United States and Britain - along with Israel, are believed to have such weapons.
Additional reporting by Jatindra Dash in Bhubaneswar, India; Editing by Nick Macfie