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South Korea taking second look at 'Iron Dome' defense system

By
Elizabeth Shim
South Korea'a military is reconsidering defense options to guard against North Korea artillery. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
South Korea'a military is reconsidering defense options to guard against North Korea artillery. Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

Oct. 12 (UPI) -- South Korea's joint chiefs of staff are considering an Iron Dome missile defense system to guard against potential long-range projectiles from North Korea -- refuting past judgments that the system would be inadequate to defend Seoul.

At a parliamentary audit on Friday, the joint chiefs said there are plans to conduct research into the system, local newspaper Segye Ilbo reported.

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"We are pursuing a weapons system suitable for our operational environment in order to minimize the damage from [potential] North Korea artillery attacks," the joint chiefs said. "In March, we authorized a plan to pursue a new interceptor system."

The South Korean military is researching options, including an Iron Dome, in conjunction with the Defense Acquisition Program Administration and the Agency for Defense Development.

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North Korea deploys hundreds of 170-millimeter and 240-millimeter artillery near the border. The guns face Seoul and could cause serious damage to the northern areas of the South Korean capital, according to the report.

In June 2013, the joint chiefs questioned the viability of an Iron Dome system, which is currently defending Israel. The system is an inadequate mode of defense, they said at the time.

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The South Korean military had preferred the Korean Tactical Surface-to-Surface Missile system to defend against North Korean artillery.

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Attitudes toward the Iron Dome option began to change in October 2017, when the joint chiefs said systems are "under review."

Choe Jae-seong, a ruling party member of the parliamentary defense committee, said there are 828,000 landmines on the South side of the demilitarized zone and about 770,000 on the North side.

Friday, the joint chiefs confirmed that Seoul and Pyongyang recognized the maritime border of the Northern Limit Line, a source of dispute between the two countries.

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"The two leaders agreed to turn the areas around the NLL into a maritime peace zone and also reaffirmed that in the September military agreement," the joint chiefs said, according to Yonhap.

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