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China Daily Website

ROK to deploy longer-range missiles in 5 years

Updated: 2012-10-08 14:34
( Xinhua)

SEOUL - The Republic of Korea (ROK) plans to deploy new ballistic missiles with a range of 550 kilometers and 800 kilometers in five years, local media reported Monday, a day after the United States gave a nod for an extension of the range limit.

The military has earmarked 2.4 trillion won ($2.15 billion) for the planned deployment and is awaiting parliamentary approval for spending 500 billion won starting next year, Yonhap News Agency quoted an unnamed government source as saying.

The report, which the defense ministry here did not confirm, came on the heels of an agreement between ROK and the US that allows the former to develop ballistic missiles with a range of up to 800 kilometers, more than double the previous limit. The payload limit was kept unchanged at 500 kilograms.

The extended range can now cover all of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), ROK's wartime enemy whose arsenal includes intermediate-range ballistic missiles with a range of 3,000 kilometers capable of striking the entire Korean Peninsula as well as US military installations in Japan and Guam.

ROK had long called for a revision of the missile pact it signed with Washington in 1979, which stopped the country from developing ballistic missiles of longer ranges despite growing missile threats posed by its northern neighbor.

The extension, however, runs counter to a global arms control agreement known as the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), an informal and voluntary association of 34 countries with a goal of stopping the spread of unmanned delivery systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.

As a member of the agreement, ROK had opted to build slower, surface-skimming cruise missiles with a range of up to 1,500 kilometers, which are not subject to the MTCR.