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Seoul announces new missle policy

Posted January. 17, 2001 19:31,   


The government Wednesday announced a new missile policy under which it plans to develop and possess 500 kg-warhead missiles with a range of up to 300 km and join the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR). Up to now, a 1979 bilateral agreement with the United States strictly limited South Korea to developing missiles with a range of 180 km.

A trade-off formula will be adopted under which a reduced-weight warhead can be compensated with an extended range. This means the Seoul government is now in a position to develop a missile of its own with a range of more than 500 km if it keeps the weight of the warhead below 500 kg. Such a missile would cover the whole of the Korean peninsula.

Civilian rockets will be developed, test-fired and produced without any limits on their range, but the government plans to produce the main propellant based on liquid fuel instead of the solid fuel used for military missiles. Unrestricted research and development programs will be undertaken on military missiles with ranges of over 300 km on condition that there is no mass production or test-firings, government sources said.

The government will seek membership in the missile technology control regime at a conference slated for March in Paris, the purpose being to dispel international misgivings about South Korean missile development and accentuate its compliance with the missile nonproliferation regime. The government is also committed to greater transparency in the process of missile development.

Special monitoring by the United States of missile development sites here is to be abolished. The U.S. monitoring has been under fire because of its possible infringement upon Korea`s sovereignty. Reports have it that American observers would still be given access to test-firings of civilian rockets. Advance notification would also be made of such tests. As to military missiles, the United States will be notified only of their development.

An announcement of the new missile policy was delivered to the United States, Japan and China as well as North Korea.