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S. Korea to develop diverse space launch platforms

All News 11:25 May 31, 2021

By Oh Seok-min

SEOUL, May 31 (Yonhap) -- South Korea will push to develop diverse platforms to fire off space launch vehicles from air and sea, the defense ministry said Monday, after the United States lifted all restrictions on the country's missiles.

Earlier this month, South Korea and the U.S. announced their decision to scrap the 1979 bilateral guidelines that ban Seoul from developing or possessing missiles with a maximum flight range greater than 800 kilometers.

"In order to beef up our defense capabilities following the termination of the missile guidelines, we will supplement and develop our military systems. We will also develop diverse platforms that operate space launch vehicles in the air and at sea," the ministry said in a report submitted to the National Assembly.

Fresh ways of launching space rockets could include using aircraft and vessels, according to officials.

"We will continue to abide by the international non-proliferation regime even after the end of the guidelines," the ministry said.

The lifting of the missile guidelines was seen by critics as part of the U.S. strategy to counter China. But the Seoul government has said that it maintains close communications with Beijing and that China has not raised any complaints about the issue.

But North Korea slammed the move on Monday, calling it a stark reminder of the U.S.' hostile policy toward it.

Speaking on the combined exercises with the U.S., the defense ministry said that the two sides have continued close coordination on the matter.

"South Korean and the U.S. defense authorities have staged combined exercises under the principle of maintaining a firm joint readiness posture. As for the exercise in the second half of the year, we are discussing closely by factoring in related circumstances in a comprehensive manner," the report read.

The factors include the COVID-19 situation, the maintenance of their combat posture, the transition of the wartime operational control, and supporting diplomatic efforts for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, according to the report.

Earlier this month, President Moon Jae-in stated that a large-scale field exercise seems unlikely in the near future due to the pandemic.

Ministry spokesperson Boo Seung-chan then said the summertime event is supposed to be held as a computer-simulated command post exercise, which does not include outdoor drills.

This file photo provided by the Army on Sept. 15, 2017, shows South Korea's firing of the Hyunmoo-2 ballistic missile. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)

This file photo provided by the Army on Sept. 15, 2017, shows South Korea's firing of the Hyunmoo-2 ballistic missile. (PHOTO NOT FOR SALE) (Yonhap)


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