August 11, 2020 12:54
South Korea plans to build a 4,000-ton nuclear-powered submarine and an "iron dome" in the capital area that can fend off long-range artillery attacks from North Korea.
The Defense Ministry released its mid-term plans on Monday, which pledge W300.7 trillion to the military over the next five years, with the defense budget expected to exceed W60 trillion in 2024 (US$1=W1,188).
The 4,000-ton sub, much larger than the 3,000-ton sub currently under construction, is to be armed with ballistic missiles and powered by a nuclear reactor. That may require a revision to the nuclear pact with the U.S., which bans South Korea from using nuclear energy for military purposes.
But deputy national security adviser Kim Hyun-chong late last month told reporters that the building of a nuclear-powered sub "has nothing do with the nuclear pact."
He said a revision of missile guidelines from the U.S., which removed all restrictions on using solid fuel rockets, will give Seoul greater independence to defend the country and the government's plan to build a nuclear-powered submarine is part of that.
The ministry also hopes develop an "iron dome" to fend off long-range artillery attacks on Seoul and surroundings with a goal of deploying it in the late 2020s. This will be similar to an Israeli mobile air defense system aimed at intercepting incoming artillery rounds with missile launchers set up at strategic locations.
North Korea has deployed about 1,000 long-range artillery pieces near the border.
The ministry plans also include building a 30,000-ton light aircraft carrier with the goal of deploying it in early 2030.
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