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Korea, U.S. to strengthen missile defense

South Korea and the U.S. are moving to boost their missile defense as a key deterrent against nuclear-armed North Korea.

Various sources told local media that the two allies have drawn up a strategic plan that aims to target and intercept the North’s nuclear facilities, underground bunkers and missiles.

Officials from the two sides are expected to discuss the matter at the bilateral Security Consultative Meeting, scheduled to be held in the U.S. later this month.

The plan calls for launching a strike against the communist state in five phases, which includes firing ballistic missiles up to a range of 550 km and up to a payload of 1,000 kg in the first stage of the alliance’s defense.

The next step is launching long-range cruise missiles and sending fighter jets and bombers to further deteriorate North Korea’s nuclear capability.

The two allies will also use unmanned aerial vehicles carrying air-to-surface missiles for moving targets on the ground, while using U.S. intelligence and communication networks.

This is in line with South Korea’s efforts to integrate its ally’s high-tech defense system into its air and missile defense system.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Jung Seung-jo recently said that the country will consider launching a preemptive strike against the North should it detect signs that the communist state will use its nuclear weapon during wartime.

He told a National Assembly committee that the new missile guidelines, agreed by the two allies and which allow South Korea to use longer-range missiles, have given the country more flexibility in countering threats from the North.

South Korea will adjust its existing short-range missiles and have its long-range ones ready in five years in line with the new guidelines.

Previously, the country was only limited to 300-km-range missiles with a payload of 500 kg, which was not strong enough to target North Korea’s main military sites in the far north or underground facilities.

By Park Hyong-ki (