US, ROK agree to boost ballistic missile capability

Updated: 2012-10-07 15:18


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SEOUL - The Republic of Korea is now allowed to develop ballistic missiles with a range of up to 800 kilometers, more than double the current limit, under a revised pact with the United States to better respond to percieved missile threats from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the presidential office said Sunday.

The extended range can now cover all of the DPRK, the ROK's wartime enemy whose arsenal includes intermediate-range ballistic missiles with a range of 3,000 kilometers capable of striking the entire Korean peninsula as well as US military installations in Japan and Guam.

The revised agreement with the United States, the ROK's ally, keeps the current payload limit unchanged at 500 kilometers, according to Chun Young-woo, the presidential secretary for foreign affairs and national security.

The ROK had long called for a revision of the missile pact it signed with Washington in 1979, which stopped the country from developing ballistic missiles of longer ranges despite growing missile threats posed by its northern neighbor.

The extension, however, runs counter to a global arms control agreement known as the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), an informal and voluntary association of 34 countries with a goal of stopping the spread of unmanned delivery systems capable of delivering weapons of mass destruction.

As a member of the agreement, the ROK had opted to build slower, surface-skimming cruise missiles with a range of up to 1,500 kilometers, which are not subject to the MTCR.