U.S. Curbs on S.Korean Missiles Are Absurd and Risky

      September 25, 2012 12:50

      South Korea is apparently close to persuading the U.S. to let it boost the maximum range of missiles from the present 300 km to 800 km. South Korea originally wanted to extend the range to 1,000 km and the maximum weight of the warhead from the present 500 kg to 1,000 kg, but the U.S. agreed only to extending the range to some degree.

      The U.S. also vehemently opposes South Korean development of a solid-fuel rocket for the country's space civilian program, and is against the South Korean military transferring its home-grown, short-range missile technology to the civilian sector.

      Washington's claim that South Korean missile development would increase concerns among its neighbors is ludicrous. North Korea has nuclear weapons, and already 16 years ago fielded a missile with a range of 1,300 km. Recently it put into operation a new mid-range missile which can hit targets 3,000 km to 4,000 km away carrying a 650 kg warhead. And the North is developing a long-range missile with a range of 6,000 km and capable of delivering a 1,000 kg warhead to targets in Alaska.

      China and Russia, meanwhile, both have intercontinental ballistic missiles that can travel more than 11,000 km, and Japan has the technology to develop a three-stage, solid-fueled rocket that can be transformed into an ICBM with a maximum reach of 10,000 carrying a 2,000 kg warhead.

      It is absurd for the U.S. to tie South Korea's hands behind its back on the pretext of promoting peace in the region when its neighbors are armed to the teeth. Washington is blocking South Korea's right to peaceful space development by prohibiting it from developing a solid-fueled rocket, citing concerns that the technology may be used for military purposes, yet even Japan, with its history of aggression, was allowed to do that long ago.

      Leaving South Korea unable to defend itself while tensions are mounting between nuclear-armed China and Japan over the Senkaku islands, is tantamount to threatening the South's right to survival. The U.S. must realize that prohibiting Seoul from developing its capacity to defend itself will destroy the balance of power among the three Northeast Asian countries and can hardly benefit the Seoul-Washington alliance.

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