By Hyung-Kin Kim
The Associated Press
Seoul, S. Korea (AP) — The United States has agreed to allow South Korea to possess longer-range ballistic missiles that could strike all of North Korea, South Korean officials said Sunday, Oct. 7.
Under a 2001 accord with Washington, Seoul has been barred from developing and deploying ballistic missiles with a range of more than 300 kilometers (186 miles) and a payload of more than 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) due to concerns of a regional arms race.
The restriction is blamed for making Seoul’s missile capability inferior to that of rival Pyongyang’s, and some key military installations in North Korea have been out of South Korea’s missile range.
On Oct. 7, South Korea announced that Seoul and Washington have revised the accord to allow Seoul to have missiles with a range of up to 800 kilometers (500 miles) to better cope with North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats.
Under the new agreement, South Korea would maintain the maximum payload for ballistic missiles at the current 500 kilograms, but can load a heavier payload for a missile with a range of less than 800 kilometers, senior presidential official Chun Yung-woo told a news conference.
‘‘The most important objective for our government revising the missile guideline is to contain North Korea’s armed provocation,’’ Chun said.
North Korea has missiles that can hit South Korea, Japan and the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam. In April, the country also conducted a long-range rocket test that Washington, Seoul and others have called a cover for a test of long-range missile technology. North Korea says the rocket, which broke apart shortly after liftoff, was meant to launch an observational satellite.
The Korean Peninsula officially remains at war because the 190-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The U.S. stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea. (end)