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Seoul questions defense system after latest North Korea missile launch

By Elizabeth Shim
Seoul questions defense system after latest North Korea missile launch
A North Korea missile launched on Sunday used a solid-fuel engine, a technology that could challenge the existing defense system in South Korea. File Photo by KCNA

Feb. 14 (UPI) -- The North Korea ballistic missile launched on Sunday poses challenges to the existing missile defense system in South Korea, a Seoul parliamentarian said Tuesday.

Yoo Seung-min, a politician with the conservative Bareun Party, said the recent missile launch raises concerns about whether South Korea's homegrown anti-missile system, the Korean Air and Missile Defense, or KAMD, and Kill Chain, are enough to defend against North Korea threats, local newspaper Asia Business reported.

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Yoo told reporters after receiving a defense ministry report on the launch that he thinks Seoul must deploy an additional number of the U.S. missile defense system THAAD on the peninsula.

The United States and South Korea have agreed to deploy THAAD in central South Korea.

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But Seoul's defense minister, Han Min-koo, said Tuesday that North Korea's use of a solid-fuel engine in the most recent rocket launch does not neutralize the pre-existing Kill Chain defense system, Newsis reported.

"Kill Chain has already taken into consideration different kinds of fuel systems, so I cannot say that a solid fuel [engine] disables the system," Han said.

A solid fuel engine makes a missile more stable and cuts down the time required to fuel a rocket prior to launch, according to The Telegraph.

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North Korea's Sunday launch drew a response from Chinese state media on Tuesday, which included mockery of North Korea missile technology.

"The subpar level of North Korea missile technology indicates Chinese sanctions are having their effect," one article in the Global Times stated.

In Japan, Tokyo said the missile provocation presents an "extremely dangerous situation" and a "very grave military threat," according to NHK.

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