North Korea blasted South Korea Monday for test-firing a ballistic missile capable of reaching all parts of the communist country, threatening strong retaliation against any provocation.
Late last month, South Korea successfully tested the ballistic missile with a range of 500 kilometers and a payload of 1 ton at a firing range southwest of Seoul, which hit the intended target.
Calling the March 23 test launch a "grave provocation," the North's Academy of the National Defense Science said that Pyongyang will not sit idle and will deal sternly with provocations.
"If a U.S. missile or the South Korean puppet forces' missile falls on any part of the DPRK (North Korea), it will pound all the strongholds of the enemy with merciless shower of missiles to reduce them to ashes," the academy warned in an English-language statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency.
South Korea has announced its plan to deploy the 500-km range missile next year and also develop an 800-km range missile with a payload of 500 kg.
Seoul's plan, made possible under a 2012 missile deal with the U.S., is intended to beef up its defense system against North Korean aggression.
North Korea has deployed ballistic missiles with various ranges capable of reaching South Korea, Japan and U.S. military bases in the Pacific, while developing intercontinental ballistic missiles and technology to miniaturize nuclear warheads to fit atop ICBMs.
The North in recent weeks has fired several short-range rockets and missiles, as well as midrange missiles, into the sea off its east coast, raising tension in the region.
The provocations were apparently in anger over annual military drills between South Korea and the U.S. Pyongyang has claimed that the joint exercises are a war rehearsal against the communist nation, a charge denied by Seoul and Washington. (Yonhap)