U.S. Approves Sale of Earth Penetrator Bombs to South Korea

The United States has authorized the export of 150 powerful and precise bombs to South Korea that could be used to destroy North Korean missiles and other weapons kept in subterranean facilities, the Korea Times reported on Wednesday (see GSN, Dec. 6).

The $71 million arms deal for 150 GBU-28 bunker-buster bombs was finalized in November, a South Korean parliamentary official said.

All of the laser-guided bombs are to be provided in 2013, a senior source with the South's Defense Acquisition Program Administration said.

If armed conflict were to break out on the Korean Peninsula, the GBU-28 bombs would be loaded onto F-15K fighter planes for use against North Korean missiles and aircraft and any bunkers sheltering the Stalinist regime's leaders.

"The deployment of GBU-28s will significantly improve the country's deterrence against North Korea's weapons of mass destruction," the official said.

South Korea is only the second nation to be allowed to purchase the powerful weapons. Israel was said to be granted a contract to acquire 100 of the bombs for potential use against Iranian atomic installations. The weapons' sale is tightly restricted as they are considered high-value strategic assets.

Washington agreed to export the bombs to the South after North Korea detonated its second nuclear test device in 2009, the Times reported (Lee Tae-hoon, Korea Times, Dec. 7).

Meanwhile, the chairwoman of the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee on Tuesday called for new sanctions against Pyongyang following intelligence reports that the aspiring nuclear power is advancing construction of ICBMs capable of striking the United States.

"We have known for years that North Korea has pursued the development of nuclear weapons," Representative Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) said in released comments. "New reports that North Korea is producing long-range ballistic missiles which can be mounted on vehicles show that the threat is becoming even more severe."

Noting Pyongyang's well-known track record as a weapons proliferator, the lawmaker warned that the North could sell its new ICBM technology to such hostile states as Syria and Iran.

"We need strong, sweeping sanctions to prevent these rogue regimes from gaining access to destructive technology and making good on their threats against the United States and our allies. I have authored legislation to do just that and I urge my colleagues to support its prompt passage," Ros-Lehtinen said.

The Florida representative and top committee Democrat Brad Sherman (Calif.) have co-authored legislation that would deepen economic sanctions targeting Pyongyang, Tehran and Damascus by widening the number of operations that can be penalized (House Foreign Affairs Committee release, Dec. 6).

December 7, 2011
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The United States has authorized the export of 150 powerful and precise bombs to South Korea that could be used to destroy North Korean missiles and other weapons kept in subterranean facilities, the Korea Times reported on Wednesday.

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