South Korea extends missile range under deal with US
South Korea said yesterday that it would nearly triple the range of its ballistic missiles, allowing it to strike all parts of North Korea and a sliver of China, under a new deal with the United States.
The bilateral agreement, coming after nearly two years of negotiations, frees Seoul to develop and use significantly more muscular missile technology at a time of steady concern about the belligerent North.
Conservatives here had bristled for years that Seoul was unable to even approach the North's ballistic missile range, but Washington and others in the region have long used weapons-limiting pacts to prevent an arms race.
Under the new deal, South Korea can now extend the range of its ballistic missiles to 800 kilometers (497 miles), up from the previous 300 kilometers (186 miles). That means that the South can conceivably strike even the northernmost tip of North Korea, as well as parts of northeast China. The previous restrictions were part of the voluntary multi-nation Missile Technology Control Regime, which Seoul entered in 2001.
In addition, the deal allows greater load weights for South Korean unmanned aerial vehicles, better known as drones. Such vehicles are commonly used for surveillance but could also be used in combat.
Security experts in Seoul say this deal takes a modest step to close the technology gap with the North, an authoritarian police state that devotes as much as one-quarter of its gross national product to the military. In recent years the North has attempted to launch several satellites, which are attached to rockets that employ long-range missile technology.
The latest launch, in April, ended in failure, with the Unha-3 rocket breaking up after about 90 seconds of flight. But former U.S. defense secretary Robert Gates said last year that the North could develop intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States by 2016.
"The most important purpose of revising the missile guideline lies in deterring armed provocations by North Korea," Chun Yung-woo, South Korean national security adviser, said Sunday in a briefing for reporters.
The North had no immediate reaction to the new agreement.
The agreement was spurred in part because the South, in 2015, will become responsible for operational control during a war on the peninsula. The deal reverses the current agreement, in place since the end of the Korean War, which gives the United States full command of all joint war operations.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak referred to the change late last month, when he called on the South to develop a more "agile and efficient" military ready for a high-tech war "based on science and technology."
"In preparation for the return of wartime operational control, the Korean Armed Forces must bolster combined defense abilities under its initiative," Lee said.
- 1 BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
- 2 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 3 18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
- 4 'I wish my teacher knew...': Young students share their 'heartbreaking' worries in notes
General Election 2015: David Cameron catching up in polls – but he badly needs a clear lead
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on
South Africa xenophobic attacks: Shops looted and violence on streets of Johannesburg as foreigners are forced to hide in police stations
Earthworms rain down from skies over Norway, puzzling scientists
18th century sex toy found in 'toilet of sword fighting school' in Poland
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
Russian warships in English Channel 'to conduct anti-aircraft and anti-submarine military drills'
£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...
£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...
£27000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Domestic Service Only Engineers are requ...
£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The Employability Service withi...