South Korea has successfully test-fired a home-developed ballistic missile with a range long enough to hit any part of North Korea, Yonhap news agency reported Thursday.
It comes a day after the North test-fired a ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast before US President Donald Trump was due to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida.
Citing a high-ranking government official, Yonhap said the South’s missile with a range of 800 kilometers could serve as a strong deterrent to Pyongyang.
“The test-firing was successful”, the official was quoted as saying.
South Korea is protected under an American security umbrella and is home to thousands of US troops.
But in 2012 it reached an agreement with the United States to almost triple the range of its ballistic missile systems to guard against the North’s nuclear threats, and has since been developing missiles with longer ranges.
The South plans to deploy the new missile this year following further tests to determine its reliability, Yonhap said.
The new missile could cover all of North Korea even when fired from a southern region of the country, it said.
Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program is likely to dominate when Trump meets China’s leader on Thursday, their first face to face meeting.
US Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift said diplomatic and economic measures against North Korea have not had the results that people were expecting.
Swift, in Tokyo to meet senior Japanese Self Defense Force commanders, said at a briefing that any decision on a pre-emptive attack would be up to Trump.
“Up to this point I think it is fair to say … that economic and diplomatic efforts have not supported the progress people have been anticipating and looking forward to” to rein in North Korea’s missile program, he said.
In a phone call with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Thursday, Trump again said that all options were on the table when it came to North Korea’s continued missile tests.