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ROK-US need to demonstrate a determination of resolute nuclear deterrence

ROK-US need to demonstrate a determination of resolute nuclear deterrence

Posted April. 14, 2023 07:48,   

Updated April. 14, 2023 07:48


North Korea fired a medium-to-long-range ballistic missile into the East Sea from near Pyongyang on Thursday morning. Launched at a high altitude from a Transporter erector launcher (TEL), the missile soared to a maximum altitude of 2000 km and traveled 1000 km. If launched normally, it could fly 3,000 to 4,000 km and hit the US base in Guam. A military official hinted that North Korea may have test-fired a new solid-fuel ICBM unveiled at a military parade in February.

If the launch, two days before the Day of the Sun, is confirmed to be a test of a solid fuel ICBM, it indicates that North Korea has entered the final stage of completing its nuclear armament system. North Korea has already been using solid fuel for various short-range missiles but has been using liquid fuel for long-range missiles that require two- and three-stage rockets. Liquid fuel ICBMs require time for transfer and fuel injection, so signs of launch are captured in advance. However, solid fuel ICBMs are not easy to detect in advance because fuel is always loaded like a battery and launched immediately, making them even more threatening. South Korea and the U.S.’s “kill chain” against North Korea will virtually no longer be able to play its role.

North Korea’s recent provocation of a solid-fueled ICBM, following its recent unveiling of the Hwasan-31 tactical nuclear warhead and underwater explosion test of a nuclear torpedo, is probably an armed demonstration to show off its rapid advance in its ability to strike a surprise nuclear strike against the United States. However, as this launch is likely to have conducted a two-stage propellant test before testing the entire three-stage solid-propellant ICBM, it is expected to focus on flaunting its ability to strike across the US mainland with multiple warhead capabilities through additional test launches in the future.

The advancement of North Korea's missile capabilities calls for an extraordinary response by South Korea and the United States. This is because if the system is armed with solid fuel-based nuclear missiles ranging from short to long range and can launch them anytime and anywhere at the command of Kim Jong Un, we can no longer relax while boasting advanced surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities. Furthermore, North Korea, armed with solid fuel ICBMs, is a fire that will immediately fall on the feet of the United States, no longer a business solely related to the Korean Peninsula across the sea. As such, the U.S. has no choice but to devise firm countermeasures with awareness and a sense of urgency.

With President Yoon Suk Yeol's state visit to the U.S. at the end of this month, South Korea and the U.S. are seeking ways to drastically increase the execution power of extended nuclear deterrence toward North Korea. As there is a limit to a military demonstration through the deployment of US strategic assets such as strategic bombers and aircraft carriers on the Korean Peninsula, a solid permanent nuclear deterrence system in which South Korea and the US jointly plan and execute nuclear weapons operations must be put in place. Only then will the stern warning that a reckless nuclear provocation will lead to the demise of the Kim Jong-un regime will have an effect.