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(LEAD) S. Korea allowed to develop solid-fuel space rocket under revised missile guidelines with U.S.

All Headlines 14:54 July 28, 2020

(ATTN: UPDATES with details from 5th para)

SEOUL, July 28 (Yonhap) -- South Korea announced Tuesday it has become able to develop a solid-propellant space rocket under the new missile guidelines with the United States.

The allies agreed to lift the decades-old restrictions on Seoul's use of solid fuels for its space rocket launch, effective as of the day, according to Kim Hyun-chong, deputy national security adviser.

Thus, South Korean companies, research institutes and even individuals are technically capable of "developing, producing and possessing" space rockets using not only liquid fuels but also solid and hybrid ones with no restrictions, he said in a press briefing.

It would help advance the South Korean military's intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities, he added.

The accord enables South Korea to launch low-earth orbit military spy satellites, flying at the altitude of 500-2,000 kilometers, anytime and anywhere, Kim said.

In that case, the entire Korean Peninsula would be under the around-the-clock watch of South Korea's military, called an "unblinking eye," he emphasized.

Seoul first signed the missile guidelines with Washington in 1979. The guidelines were last revised in 2017 to scrap a payload cap of 500 kilograms for South Korea's ballistic missiles with ranges of 800 kilometers.

Kim said that the range and weight limit remain in place but that they can be resolved "in due time" if necessary for military purposes.

President Moon Jae-in instructed the national security office at Cheong Wa Dae last October to hold talks with the U.S. on the guidelines. Kim had since led the negotiations for nine months.

Kim Hyun-chong, deputy national security adviser (Yonhap)

lcd@yna.co.kr
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