UK & World News
US Deal To Extend South Korea's Missile Range
The United States has agreed to allow South Korea to develop longer-range missiles that could strike all of North Korea.
Under a 2001 accord with Washington, South Korea has been barred from developing and deploying ballistic missiles with a range of more than 186 miles because of concerns about a regional arms race.
The restriction has made South Korea's missile capability inferior to that of rival North Korea, and some key military installations in the North have been out of South Korea's missile range.
South Korea announced on Sunday the US accord has been altered to allow the South to have ballistic missiles with a range of up to 500 miles to better cope with North Korea's nuclear and missile threats.
"The most important objective for our government in revising the missile guideline is to contain North Korea's armed provocation," South Korea's senior presidential official Chun Yung-woo told a news conference.
The defence ministry said in a statement that it will greatly increase its missile capability under the new accord, adding that South Korea will be able to "strike all of North Korea, even from southern areas".
North Korean state media has not yet responded to the announcement, but analysts expect a harsh statement to be issued.
"North Korea will say South Korea's missile development is a preparation for war. It will likely warn that South Korea cannot avoid a nuclear disaster if it moves to attack North Korean missile bases," said analyst Baek Seung-joo, of the state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses in Seoul.
North Korea has missiles that can hit South Korea, Japan and the US Pacific territory of Guam, according to Seoul's defence ministry.
The Korean Peninsula remains officially at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
The US stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea as deterrence against possible aggression from North Korea.