New missile deal would put all of North in rangeSouth Korea and the United States have reached a tentative deal to allow Seoul to develop ballistic missiles that can reach deeper into North Korea, an official and diplomatic sources said yesterday.
The agreement will extend the range of domestic ballistic missiles to 800 kilometers (497 miles) from the current 300 kilometers while keeping intact the current payload weight limit of 500 kilograms (1,102 pounds), the sources said.
Ballistic missiles with the extended range would put the whole of North Korea within reach if they were launched from the central city of Daejeon.
The country has sought to rewrite its missile range pact with the U.S. - first signed in 1979 and revised in 2001 - to counter the threat posed by North Korea’s missile arsenal.
All of South Korea is within striking distance of the North’s missiles.
South Korea and the U.S. “reached a tentative agreement,” to extend the range of South Korean ballistic missiles to 800 kilometers and keep intact the payload weight to 500 kilograms, diplomatic sources said.
An unidentified local official also said the two sides reached a deal on major issues, without elaborating. The sides plan to declare a new missile policy that includes the deal early next month, the sources said.
Pyongyang earlier this year threatened to strike Seoul, home to 10 million people, over the alleged defamation of its leadership, although no attack occurred.
The Koreas remain technically at war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.
In April, a long-range rocket launched by the North exploded soon after lift-off and the UN Security Council swiftly condemned the launch.
The North claimed it was intended to put a satellite into orbit but Seoul and Washington deemed it a cover for testing ballistic missile technology.