SEOUL, April 1 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's defense ministry unveiled Monday a new contingency plan of "active deterrence" that allows its military to launch a preemptive strike against North Korea if the North shows signs of an imminent nuclear or missile attack on the South.
The new contingency plan was outlined in an annual policy briefing by Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin to President Park Geun-hye amid heightened tensions over the escalation of North Korea's bellicose rhetoric against Seoul and Washington.
In a briefing to Park, Defense Minister Kim said the military is mapping out "an active deterrence and will build an attack system to swiftly neutralize North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, while significantly improving our military's capability of surveillance and reconnaissance."
To achieve the goal, the ministry will speed up the deployment of a "kill chain" system capable of detecting, targeting and destroying North Korean nuclear and missile targets, ministry officials said.
South Korea had originally planned to deploy the "kill chain" system by 2015, but ministry officials said it will be deployed ahead of the planned schedule.
The new contingency plan will be formalized in October this year, when defense chiefs of South Korea and the U.S. hold annual security talks, ministry officials said.
The ministry will also speed up building and deploying South Korea's own missile defense system, named "Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD)," at an earlier date than scheduled.
The Korean missile defense system, tailored for Korean terrain, is designed to intercept hostile missiles or combat aircrafts at an altitude of 10-30 kilometers.
To enhance its reconnaissance capability, South Korea will make efforts for a speedy deployment of U.S.-made Global Hawk spy drones and put at least two military spy satellites into orbit by 2021, according to the ministry.
Last December, the U.S. government informed Congress of a plan to sell four Global Hawk surveillance drones to South Korea. The deal under the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) program would be worth up to US$1.2 billion.
Tensions remain high on the Korean Peninsula following North Korea's third nuclear test on Feb. 12, prompting the U.N. to impose new sanctions against the totalitarian regime.
Since then, North Korea has issued a constant stream of bellicose rhetoric. On Saturday, Pyongyang said it has entered into a "state of war" with Seoul, threatening to take "stern physical actions."
Last week, North Korea said it put its artillery forces on their highest combat alert and repeated threats of attacks against South Korea and the U.S.
The communist nation said they are targeting the U.S. mainland, Hawaii and Guam, as well as other U.S. military bases in the Pacific and South Korea, it said.
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