South Korea successfully test-fired a ballistic missile Wednesday capable of reaching nearly all parts of North Korea, the Defense Ministry said, in an apparent show of force against the communist archrival.
The state-run Agency for Defense Development carried out the first test of the missile with a range of at least 500 kilometers that it has developed over the past three years.
The test that took place at the ADD's firing range in Taean, South Chungcheong Province, was watched by President Park Geun-hye, according to the ministry.
The development began in October 2012 when South Korea and the United States announced their new missile guideline that extended the maximum range of Seoul's ballistic missiles from 300 km to 800 km. It also allows Seoul to load its ballistic missiles with warheads heavier than the current limit of 500 kilograms, on the condition their range decreases in proportion to the payload.
So far, the South Korean military has a ballistic missile with a range of 300 kilometers capable of carrying a 500-kilogram warhead.
As one of the key assets for the Kill Chain, the pre-emptive strike apparatus South Korea has been developing against Pyongyang, the missile will be capable of hitting nuclear and missile bases across the communist country, according to officials.
"The successful test today allows us to deploy the new missile starting at the end of the year," a Defense Ministry official said on condition of anonymity.
The move came amid tensions on the Korean Peninsula over North Korea's provocative actions in recent weeks, including a launch of a ballistic missile from a submarine.
South Korea has been trying to beef up its defense system against North Korea's possible aggression.
North Korea has deployed ballistic missiles with various ranges capable of reaching South Korea, Japan and U.S. military bases in the Pacific, while developing intercontinental ballistic missiles and technology to miniaturize nuclear warheads to fit atop missiles.
The North has recently claimed that it has mastered the technology to make nuclear warheads small enough to mount on missiles.