SEOUL: South Korea is looking to test-launch a new “high-power” ballistic missile in the near future, an informed source told Yonhap news agency Wednesday, in a move to bolster deterrence against evolving North Korean military threats.

The country has been working on the development of the missile, known as Hyunmoo-5, as a core asset of its deterrence capabilities.

Earlier in the day, speculation emerged that the state-run Agency for Defence Development may test-fire it at its Anheung test site in Taean, 150 kilometres southwest of Seoul, on Friday due to a navigational warning applicable to nearby waters for Friday and Saturday.

But the defence ministry said there is no plan for any maritime live-fire training Friday, apparently hinting the plan for the missile test might have been cancelled or delayed.

The missile is known to be capable of carrying a warhead weighing 8-9 kilogrammes with a thrust of 75 tonne-force, and of descending at a speed of Mach 10 after reaching an apogee.

Its maximum range remains unknown, but observers said that it may be able to fly 3,000 kilometres or farther -- a distance covered by an intermediate-range missile.

The missile, if fielded, is expected to serve as a centrepiece of Seoul’s Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR), an operational plan to incapacitate the North Korean leadership in a major conflict.

KMPR is a pillar of the three-axis deterrence structure that includes the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike platform and the Korea Air and Missile Defence system. - Bernama