South Korea "For Sure" to Get Longer Ballistic Missile Range: Minister

South Korea's defense chief said he was certain the United States will agree to allow his country to develop high-altitude missiles with ranges longer than those currently permitted, Agence France-Presse reported on Thursday (see GSN, July 11).

Seoul and Washington are presently discussing altering a bilateral defense agreement that currently prohibits South Korea from producing ballistic missiles with ranges longer than 186 miles or with explosive payloads greater than 1,100 pounds.

Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told the Segye Times, "One thing I can say for sure is that the range will be improved compared to now."

Kim said he was aiming to reach agreement with Washington on a new missile range before 2012 is over.

The South argues it needs a more powerful ballistic missile arsenal to counter rival North Korea's own ongoing missile development.

"The U.S. has agreed on the need for us to strengthen ballistic missile capability in order to better respond to North Korea's ballistic missile threat," the minister said (Agence France-Presse I/Asia One News, Aug. 2).

Meanwhile, the South is slated to hold routine armed forces maneuvers in mid-August on an island that is contested by the North, AFP cited a military spokesman as saying (Agence France-Presse II/Channel News Asia, Aug. 2).

August 2, 2012
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South Korea's defense chief said he was certain the United States will agree to allow his country to develop high-altitude missiles with ranges longer than those currently permitted, Agence France-Presse reported on Thursday.

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