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(LEAD) N. Korea upgrades surface-to-air weapons: Air Force chief

All News 14:46 October 15, 2020

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES throughout with Air Force chief's remarks; ADDS 2nd photo)
By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, Oct. 15 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has upgraded its surface-to-air weapons to augment its air power considered way weaker than that of South Korea, the South's Air Force chief said Thursday, vowing to boost missile defense capabilities against the North's nuclear and missile threats.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Lee Seong-yong made the remark during a parliamentary audit session, saying around 10 new weapons have been identified from the North's military parade held last week.

"We are analyzing the newly identified weapons and planning to establish corresponding countermeasures," Lee said.

On Saturday, North Korea held a massive military parade to mark the 75th founding anniversary of its ruling Workers' Party, during which it unveiled a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), along with other weapons.

Shown in this image captured from the Korean Central Television footage on Oct. 10, 2020, is North Korea's new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which was displayed during a military parade in Pyongyang to mark the 75th founding anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

Asked to comment on the possible deployment of the North's version of the surface-to-surface Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS), Lee said that more time will be necessary between its test launches and actual deployment.

North Korea showed off new short-range missiles last year, including the ATACMS.

Lee said South Korea can defend its core infrastructure even if the North mobilizes multiple missiles to attack the South at the same time, citing its Patriot and the soon-to-be-deployed M-SAM II systems.

The Air Force plans to set up new units for surveillance operations and strengthen its capabilities to strike enemies' nuclear and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs.

"In response to nuclear and WMD threats, we will firm up strategic strike and missile defense capabilities," it said in an audit report.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Lee Seong-yong speaks during a parliamentary audit session at its headquarters in the central city of Gyeryong on Oct. 15, 2020. (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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