October 15, 2018 10:11
Cheong Wa Dae has intentionally delayed testing of a new home-grown interceptor missile, an opposition lawmaker alleged Sunday.
The L-SAM, a long-range surface-to-air missile, is slated to become a key weapon in defending South Korea against the nuclear and missile threat from North Korea.
The Agency for Defense Development had planned to conduct two test-launches of the L-SAM on the west coast in April and June. But Liberty Korea Party lawmaker Baek Seung-joo quoted a military officer as saying Cheong Wa Dae "ordered the military to suspend the test in April in consideration of cross-border relations."
Military authorities at first postponed the tests until June and July but then cancelled them again at the orders of the presidential office, Baek added.
He said the National Security Council sent a secret letter to military authorities telling them to stay the tests citing inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korea summits.
After two delays, military authorities have now decided to test the missile in October and November, though Cheong Wa Dae may push for another delay since cross-border talks are underway and a second U.S.-North Korea summit is expected later this year.
The L-SAM is scheduled for completion by 2023 at a budget of W1.09 trillion (US$1=W1,134). Military authorities are considering testing it overseas in case the atmosphere does not permit it here, but the delays could hold up the entire project.
"Delaying tests of a new defensive weapon is tantamount to giving up our military sovereignty before the nuclear and missile threats from the North have been removed," Baek said.
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