TechRussia-North Korea pact Prompts South Korea's arms pledge to Ukraine

Russia-North Korea pact Prompts South Korea's arms pledge to Ukraine

KN-23
KN-23
Images source: © Licensor
Norbert Garbarek

7 July 2024 12:33

The agreement signed in mid-June between Russia and North Korea swiftly elicited a response from South Korean authorities. The South Korean government announced that Seoul might provide valuable weapons to Ukraine.

The Ukrainian agency Unian recalls that on 19 June, Putin visited Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, where he signed an agreement with its leader, Kim Jong Un. The details of this agreement remain undisclosed. Forbes notes that, according to experts, the treaty will lead to "closer industrial and military ties between the authoritarian states—ties that could feed and prolong Russia’s costly wider war on Ukraine."

South Korea reacts to the Putin-Kim Jong Un agreement

The Putin-Kim Jong Un agreement did not pass without a reaction from South Korea. The South Korean National Security Advisor, Chang Ho-jin, announced that "if Pyongyang supplies Moscow with more arms, then Seoul may supply Kyiv" – it reads.

The Unian agency points out that South Korea has not yet committed to closer relations with Ukraine. Still, Ukrainians will likely request the same weapons from South Korea that the Russians receive from North Korea – this includes, amongst others, KN-23 ballistic missiles.

- If North Korea can sell KN-23 SRBMs to Russia, South Korea can sell Hyunmoo-series SRBMs to Ukraine - stated Jeffrey Lewis from the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey (California, USA).

It is worth noting, however, that South Korea has not officially announced the transfer of these missiles to Ukraine. Nonetheless, considering the declaration made by Chang Ho-jin, it cannot be ruled out that a valuable shipment from Seoul may reach Kyiv shortly.

Modern Hyunmoo family missiles

Regarding the weapons that could potentially be transferred to Ukraine, specifically Hyunmoo, it is a family of modern ballistic missiles developed since the 1980s. Over the years, numerous versions of rockets in this family have been created, with the latest being the model designated as Hyunmoo-5.

The launch of the Hyunmoo-1 missile
The launch of the Hyunmoo-1 missile© Wikimedia Commons

The latest Hyunmoo model is designed to engage targets at long range, with its range of 300-3,000 kilometres. The warhead weighs 8,000-9,000 kilograms, making it the heaviest known conventional ballistic missile. It accelerates to a speed of Mach 10 (about 11,000 kilometres per hour) and, according to experts, is capable of causing artificial earthquakes.

However, due to their excessive destructive power, it is unlikely that the latest generation of Hyunmoo missiles will be transferred to Ukraine. An older version, Hyunmoo-4, has a much smaller range, reaching 800 kilometres. It is essentially an evolution of the Hyunmoo-2C version with the same range. The difference, however, is that the "four" carries a load of more than 2,500 kilograms, while its predecessor only carries 500 kilograms.

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