Amid fear that a war could break out with North Korea at any moment, likely as a result of a unilateral US attack, the Pentagon is planning to meet with South Korea’s government to discuss the current level of missile technology the US deigns to allow South Korea to possess.
At present, South Korea is forbidden from having any missiles with a range beyond 800 km, or with a payload bigger than 500 kg. Pentagon officials say they are “favorably inclined” toward letting South Korea develop bigger missiles.
Though initially intended as a restriction on the sorts of missiles the United States was willing to sell to South Korea, the agreement fairly quickly evolved into an outright US ability to cap the missile technology South Korea was allowed to develop in house, as well as what it was allowed to buy from other nations.
The last revision came in 2012, expanding the range South Korea’s missiles could have substantially. It is noteworthy that critics at the time warned this could lead to an arms race with North Korea scrambling to keep up with them, and that’s exactly what’s ended up happening. The Pentagon talks suggest the US is keen to retain this control over South Korea, but also keen to keep the arms race going.
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