January 19, 2011 09:26
Seoul and Washington have started talks to revise a bilateral accord that limits South Korea's ballistic missile range to 300 km.
"The two sides have recently started talks on the revision of the missile accord because there is now some consensus between them," a government source said. "The talks are still in their initial stage, so it remains to be seen how much we can increase the range and payload weight."
The accord, signed in 1979, was revised once before in 2001. It limits the range of South Korea's ballistic missiles to 300 km and their payload weight to 500 kg, preventing Seoul from matching the range of missiles to those North Korea has been developing.
Seoul proposed the revision talks to Washington after the North tested a long-range ballistic missile in April 2009. But U.S. military leaders including U.S. Forces Korea Commander Gen. Walter Sharp are against a revision.
South Korean military and some experts stress the need to increase the range to more than 1,000 km, which would bring all of North Korea within reach from the south coast, and the payload weight to more than 1 ton.
The North has deployed ballistic missiles with a maximum range of 3,000 to 4,000 km warfare ready, but South Korean ballistic missiles, such as Hyunmu and ATACMS, have the range of a mere 165 to 300 km.
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