North Korea

North Korea prepping large-caliber rocket launch system, South Korea says

Benjamin Hall reports from London

 

North Korea has developed a large-caliber multiple launch rocket system that has the capability to strike Seoul as early as this year, South Korea’s defense minister said Wednesday.

The announcement, reported in The Washington Post, comes a day after a South Korean official said the North has the ability to mount a nuclear warhead on a medium-range missile that could strike targets in Russia, China, Japan and the Korean Peninsula.

Han Min-koo said Wednesday that North Korea’s recent rest-firings of 300-millimeter rockets suggest that its multiple launch rocket system is almost fully developed.

“Under this assessment, I think North Korea will deploy the 300-mm MLRS as early as the end of this year,” Han told reporters.

The 300-millimeter rockets are cheaper than missiles and are believed to have a range of 125 miles, giving them the ability to strike Seoul, a city of nearly 26 million people that lies just 35 miles from the demilitarized zone, the Post reported.

North Korea recently has threatened to "scorch" South Korea’s presidential offices with its “powerful large-caliber multiple-rocket-launching systems,” according to statements from the regime.

The official who said Tuesday that South Korea believes the North can mount a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile said there was no direct evidence yet that it had done so, but declined to elaborate.

"We've not seen them demonstrate it, so we don't share that assessment necessarily, but we do accept what they say as a threat we need to take as real," Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said Wednesday when asked about the claim from the South Korean official.

"That said, we know that they've said they have that capability and we have to be -- we have to take them at their word," he added. "And that is why we have a missile defense system that we have been working and developing over time. As they've developed their capability, we have worked to outpace that capability with our defensive system."

Click for more from The Washington Post.

Fox News' Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.