Global Policy Forum

South Korea to Get Longer-Range Missiles under New Deal with US


With the permission of the US, South Korea has extended the range of its ballistic missiles to reach all of North Korea. In response, North Korea has declared that its missiles can now strike mainland US. After missile tests in 2006 and 2009, North Korea’s already crippled economy has been sanctioned by the UN. With a recent power transition in the North and upcoming presidential elections in the South, tensions are again rising on the Korean Peninsula.

By Associated Press in Seoul

October 7, 2012

Angry reaction expected from Pyongyang as South is allowed weapons that can strike anywhere in North Korea

The US has agreed to allow South Korea to possess longer-range missiles that could strike anywhere in North Korea, officials said on Sunday, a development expected to draw an angry response from Pyongyang.

Under a 2001 accord with Washington, South Korea has been barred from developing and deploying ballistic missiles with a range of more than 300km (186 miles) and a payload of more than 500kg (1,100lb) to avert a regional arms race. The restriction has made its missile capability inferior to that of the North and put key military sites out of range.

South Korea announced on Sunday that the US accord had been altered to allow the South to have ballistic missiles with a range of up to 800km to cope with the North's nuclear and missile threats.

Under the new agreement, South Korea will continue to limit the payload to 500kg for ballistic missiles with an 800km range, but it will be able to use heavier payloads for missiles with shorter ranges, said Chun Yung-woo, South Korea's security minister. The heavier a payload is, the more destructive power it can have.

"The most important objective for our government in revising the missile guideline is to contain North Korea's armed provocation," Chun said.

The defence ministry said it would greatly increase its missile capability under the new accord, adding that South Korea would be able to "strike all of North Korea, even from southern areas".

The deal also will allow South Korea to operate drone aircraft carrying payloads of up to 2,500kg (5,510lb) with a range of more than 300km. It places no restriction on payloads for drones with a flying distance of less than 300km.

South Korea can also possess cruise missiles with an unlimited range as long as their payload is less than 500kg.

Media reports say the South has deployed cruise missiles with a range of more than 1,000km, but officials have refused to confirm that.

Cruise missiles fly at a lower altitude and slower speed than ballistic missiles, making them easier to intercept, although they are considered more accurate.

North Korean state media did not respond immediately to the news, but analysts expected they would issue a harsh statement. Baek Seung-joo, of the state-run Korea Institute for Defence Analyses in Seoul, said: "North Korea will say South Korea's missile development is a preparation for war. It will likely warn that South Korea cannot avoid a nuclear disaster if it moves to attack North Korean missile bases."

North Korea has missiles that can hit South Korea, Japan and the US Pacific territory of Guam, according to Seoul's defence ministry. In April the country conducted a long-range rocket test that Washington, Seoul and others called a cover for a test of long-range missile technology. North Korea says the rocket, which broke apart shortly after liftoff, was meant to launch a satellite.

North Korea conducted nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, but experts do not believe it has yet mastered the technology needed to mount a nuclear weapon on a missile.



FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. Global Policy Forum distributes this material without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. We believe this constitutes a fair use of any such copyrighted material as provided for in 17 U.S.C § 107. If you wish to use copyrighted material from this site for purposes of your own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright owner.