N.Korea 'Has 10,000 Missile Experts'

There are about 10,000 people working on missiles in North Korea, three times more than in the South, a high-ranking South Korean military officer said Monday. He added they have "considerable research skills."

North Korea started developing ballistic missiles in the mid-1970s. It produced Scud-Bs with a range of 300 km and Scud-Cs with a range of 500 km and deployed them along the frontline in the 1980s.

The South Korean military estimates that North Korea has spent US$3.1 billion on developing and testing long-range ballistic missiles so far.

The rocket North Korea plans to launch this month is likely to cost $850 million which, according to a South Korean official, is equivalent to a year’s food supply for 19 million people in the impoverished country. The South Korean military believes that even more money was spent on training missile specialists.

In contrast, South Korea has about 2,000 rocket propulsion experts in the civilian and public sectors excluding the military, some 200 of them at the Korea Aerospace Research Institute. A defense industry insider said, "Even counting the military workforce, the total capacity for missile research is far behind from North Korea's with a mere 3,000 experts."

englishnews@chosun.com / Apr. 03, 2012 13:01 KST