Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
South Korean, U.S. Talks on Missile Range Extension "Almost Done": Source
South Korean and U.S. negotiators are "almost done" with formal talks on granting the South an extension on its permitted ballistic missile flight distance, an unidentified source told the Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday.
Seoul is currently prohibited by a bilateral military accord from producing ballistic missiles with ranges greater than 186 miles or that can carry warheads heavier than 1,100 pounds. The South wants to be allowed to manufacture high-altitudes missiles with longer ranges as a countermeasure to North Korea's own growing missile arsenal.
"Related negotiations on the range issue itself are almost done. The two sides are in consultations over additional matters such as cooperation on missile defense," the informed insider said.
The Washington-based source would not disclose details of the anticipated revised missile accord. The Obama administration similarly said it had "no information to provide."
The longtime allies are trying to agree on the right occasion for publicizing any new agreement, according to the source.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak is seen as wanting to conclude his term with a foreign policy win in order to boost his political party's standing in coming elections. Washington is understood to worry that granting South Korea a significantly higher ballistic missile range would undermine U.S. nonproliferation goals.
South Korea wants the right to field missiles with ranges of 500 miles or more to ensure it could strike any location in the North.
A separate anonymous source said the expected missile deal will permit the South to manufacture ballistic missiles that can travel close to 342 miles. The United States is also anticipated to increase military defense measures covering South Korea.
Meanwhile, the South Korean Defense Acquisition and Procurement Agency on Tuesday announced it would allocate $2.3 billion in the coming half-decade for purchasing hundreds of indigenously produced ballistic missiles and other armaments, according to an Agence France-Presse report.
The spending measure must be authorized by lawmakers.
The South Korean Defense Ministry intends to enlarge its arsenal of domestic Hyunmu 3 cruise missiles that can travel as far as 625 miles and Hyunmu 2 ballistic missiles that can travel as far as 186 miles.
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