S. Korea reaffirms capabilities to respond to N. Korean attack after Iran’s missile salvo

SEOUL, The defense ministry on Tuesday reaffirmed capabilities to respond to North Korean missile threats amid renewed attention to the country's air defense system after Israel repelled a missile barrage by Iran. On Saturday, Iran launched more than 300 drones and missiles toward Israel but many of them were shot down by Israel's defense systems, according to foreign media reports. Iran's attack renewed concerns in South Korea over Seoul's capabilities to counter a possible North Korean salvo of missiles and artillery firing, as the North has developed weapons that could put the entire territory of the South within its striking range. "South Korea and the United States possess the capabilities to detect and intercept various mixed attacks by North Korea, including ballistic missiles, as well as overwhelming strike capabilities in a contingency," Jeon Ha-kyou, the ministry's spokesperson, said in a press briefing. South Korea operates the homegrown Cheongung-II and the U.S.-made Patriot systems to shoot down low-tier missile threats, while the U.S. military stationed in the country operates the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system that intercepts upper-tier threats. Jeon said the country is making efforts to further bolster its defense system, noting the development of an interceptor against North Korean long-range artillery firing. Many of the North's long-range artillery pieces are stationed within striking distances of the South's wider capital area -- home to nearly half of the country's 51 million people. Meanwhile, Jeon said the military has extended the deployment period of military doctors to civilian hospitals to support their operations amid a protracted walkout by trainee doctors nationwide. Around 120 military doctors have been dispatched since the collective action began in February in protest of the government's plan to sharply increase the number of medical school seats. Source: Yonhap News Agency

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