S. Korea to Conduct Military Drills with US, Develop New Weapons

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - South Korea plans to conduct joint annual military exercises with the United States this year as scheduled despite the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's ( DPRK) call for suspension, Seoul's Defense Ministry said Monday in its annual report to President Park Geun-hye.

S. Korea to Conduct Military Drills with US, Develop New Weapons

The "Key Resolve" command post exercise and the "Foal Eagle" field training drill will be staged in early March as planned, together with the "Ulchi Freedom Guardian (UFG)" computer-assisted simulation exercise, which tends to kick off in mid-August.

The announcement came after Pyongyang proposed to temporarily suspend nuclear tests if Washington halts its annual war games with Seoul in 2015, but the United States has rejected the proposal. The DPRK has called the joint military drills as a rehearsal for a northward invasion, Xinhua reported.

President Park Geun-hye said a unified Korea should be pursued based on firm security, stressing the need to expand military capability while soundly maintaining the "South Korea-US allied defense posture."

Park said South Korea should urge the DPRK to "strategically" abandon its nuclear program when she received a briefing from four ministries in charge of unification, defense and foreign affairs.

The South Korean military also plans to participate in this year's Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), scheduled to be conducted in September in New Zealand to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), according to the report.

Meanwhile, South Korea will develop a new weapons system, called "reverse-asymmetrical" capability, to counter the DPRK's asymmetrical warfare capability such as atomic bombs and ballistic missiles, said the report.

The reverse-asymmetrical capability includes high-energy laser beam, high-power microwave (HPM) and electro-magnetic pulse (EMP), which the military aims to develop by early 2020s.

The South Korean military has spent about 29 billion won (27 million US dollars) since 2012 on research for laser beam weapons development. If deployed, the laser beam, which is powered by electricity, is expected to reduce missile defense costs for South Korea as it costs less than 10 US dollars per shot, far lower than around 1 million dollars per interceptor missile, said the report.

The high-power microwave weapon, which South Korea aims to develop by early 2020s, emits a beam of about 2 billion-watt microwaves, to cause outage of all electronic products within the radius of some 300 meters. It is also dubbed "e-Bomb."

The state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD) has reportedly been developing the electro-magnetic pulse since 1999. After completing its nine-year research, the ADD launched the EMP bomb development in September 2008.

If the EMP bomb, carried by an aircraft, is detonated in the air, it could paralyze or disable all electronic devices within the radius of about 1-5 kilometers, causing mobile phone outage and electric grid damages.

The military also plans to spend about 20 billion won in 2015 to develop unmanned battleships, expected to be deployed in the disputed western sea border, said the report.

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