North Korean missile developments were likely the impetus for the initiation of South Korean missile programs. By reverse engineering U.S. supplied missiles, South Korea produced a two-stage, solid-fuel surface to surface missile based on the Nike-Hercules surface to air missile. This development took place in the late 1970’s.
NHK-1 ICBM and NHK-2 (Nike-Hercules-Korea) are in service with South Korean forces. The systems are reportedly capable of delivering a payload of about 450 kilograms to a range of roughly 260 km. South Korea depends on the U. S. for most of its advanced weapons. An agreement between the U.S. and South Korea bans South Korea from developing medium/long-range missiles. However, in order to counter North Korea’s theater ballistic missile development programs, South Korea has just completed negotiations with the US to allow for 300 km missiles.
South Korea currently possesses two types of SRBMs: the NHK-1 and the NHK-2. These ballistic missiles are reverse-engineered from the U.S. Nike-Hercules SAM, with modifications designed to increase their range and accuracy and transform them to strike ground targets. The NHK-1 was developed in 1975 and the NHK-2 was test fired in 1978. The latter reportedly possessed improved electronics and warhead munitions, and could strike targets up to a distance of 250 km, depending upon the weight of the payload.
This missile would have violated a 1979 South Korea pledge contained in a Seoul-Washington Memo of Understanding (MOU) not to build any ballistic missiles with a range exceeding 180 km. However, the United States agreed in September 2000 that South Korea should be able to build missiles compliant to Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) standards, which allows for missiles under 300 km range. Some
experts have implied that the NHK-2 could be modified to carry a nuclear explosive device should South Korea choose a nuclear option.
South Korea has stepped up its efforts in recent yearsto produce missiles indigenously. The NHK-A is the successor to the NHK-2. Very little information is available on this missile in the unclassified literature. It might
have a range of approximately 320 km, and, if true, would thus represent a violation of the MTCR. Moreover, South Korea might be attempting to build ballistic missile prototypes with a range of 500 km (enabling it to target all of North Korea), albeit only for “research purposes While South Korea has not indicated any plans to build missiles other than those mentioned above, it has an ambitious space launch program and has already developed a family of civilian space launch vehicles.
KSR-1 Ballistic Missile System
The singlestage KSR-1, developed in 1993 and the second in the KSR family, could be capable of modifications to become a ballistic missile with a 200 kg payload and a range of 150 km. The KSR-2, first launched in 1997, is a two-stage rocket that reportedly carried a 150 kg scientific observation unit to an orbit of 151.5 km. Although South Korea has not indicated that it intends to convert the KSR-2 into a ballistic missile, unconfirmed reports suggest that it could be used as a ballistic missile with a range from 100 to 900 km.50 Furthermore, the South Korean space program plans to build a satellite launch facility by 2005, where the Korea Aerospace Research Institute (KARI) intends to develop booster rockets that could be easily transferable to IRBM and ICBM applications.