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Disarmament Diplomacy

Issue No. 54, February 2001

New Missile Development Range for South Korea

On January 17, the South Korean Foreign Ministry announced that agreement had been reached with the United States to allow Seoul to develop missiles with a range of up to 187 miles, carrying a payload of up to 1,100 pounds. A 1979 agreement between the two states specified a limit of 112 miles. Although the new limit matches the maximum range specified by the guidelines of the Missile Technology Control Regime, it would bring Pyongyang and other major cities of North Korea within reach. The issue has reportedly been the subject of 20 rounds of negotiations dating back to 1995. Unconfirmed reports suggest that the range could be increased further, to 310 miles, subject to a reduction in payload.

The new US administration has yet to hold direct talks on missile and nuclear issues with North Korea. On January 26, a spokesperson for the North Korean Foreign Ministry observed: "If the US brandishes a sword at us, we will counter it with a sword - and if it shows good faith, we will reciprocate it." The same day, an unnamed US official stated that the administration "would proceed step-by-step as North Korea meets the concerns that we have about missiles, about military forces, and [about] tension on the Peninsular..."

Report: South Korea to develop missiles, Associated Press, January 17; US ready for engagement with N. Korea, Reuters, January 26; N. Korea may seek better US relations, Associated Press, February 2.

© 2001 The Acronym Institute.