Calls for Greater Missile Range for S.Korea

    April 08, 2009 08:52

    A video grab shows the launch of a missile in Musudan-ri, North Korea on Sunday. /AP
    Views are gaining ground among politicians in Seoul that South Korea needs to extend the range of its ballistic missiles now that North Korea's launch of a long-range rocket has shown its own can fly thousands of miles.

    South Korea is by agreement limited to missiles with a range of 300 km and a maximum payload of 500 kg.

    Prime Minister Han Seung-soo on Monday hinted Seoul could seek a revision of the Korean-U.S. missile agreement, saying, "Now is the time to think seriously of this matter at bilateral defense ministers' talks." The current range does not even extend as far as the North's missile launch pad in Musudan-ri.

    Foreign Minister Yu Myung-hwan in the National Assembly on Tuesday said, "At the moment, we're reviewing" a revision of the bilateral missile agreement. When Grand National Party lawmaker Gu Sang-chan asked if the aim of getting the North's missile capabilities under control, as set forth by South Korea when it acceded to the U.S.-led Missile Technology Control Regime in 2001, had been thwarted, Yu said yes.

    Military experts say now is the right time to seek extension of the range of missiles. "I think that the U.S. now has a weaker justification for restricting the range of Korea's ballistic missiles, as the North's latest rocket launch proves," said former vice defense minister Park Yong-ok.

    Seoul and Washington agreed on the missile guidelines in January 2001. The same year, Seoul also acceded to the MTCR which strictly bans member states from transferring missile-related technologies.

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