South Korea is taking a tougher stance against North Korea’s continuous aggression and nuclear arms ambitions as it carried out its first test of an air-launched cruise missile meant to serve a chilling warning to the rogue state leader Kim Jong-Un.
The U.S. ally fired the Taurus missile from an F-15 fighter jet which traveled through obstacles at low altitudes before making it hit the target off the country’s western coast on Tuesday.
North Korea carried out another nuclear arms test on September 3, already its sixth and most powerful to date, and days after that, South Korea discovered radioactivity in air samples it collected days after the arms test of its rival neighbor. Xenon-133 isotopes were found in the air. South Korea’s nuclear safety agency said those isotopes could show if the bomb tested on Sept. 3 was a plutonium or uranium device. It said it also hasn't discovered traces of tritium, which accompany a test of a thermonuclear, or hydrogen, bomb
South Korea’s missile was manufactured by Germany’s Taurus Systems, and has a maximum range of 310 miles and was designed with the intent of avoiding North Korea radar.
Just after the nuclear test, Seoul made an announcement that it reached an agreement with close ally Washington to remove the warhead weight limits on South Korean ballistic missiles. Under a bilateral guideline, such could be built for a maximum range of 497 miles.
South Korea is aware of its rather limited military options against North Korea and a pre-emptive strike against Pyongyang would be a challenge to undertake, but could still serve as its most realistic choice.
The rogue state North Korea’s latest nuclear test involved a thermonuclear weapon built for its developmental intercontinental ballistic missiles that were flight tested twice in July.
Kim Jong-un's regime is also developing solid-fuel missiles that could be fired from land mobile launchers or submarines. North Korea also flew a powerful new mid-range missile over northern Japan last month. The isolated nation also bragged about conducting more missile tests targeting the Pacific Ocean.