The US has lifted restrictions on South Korea’s ability to develop and possess long-range missiles, a move that is seen as part of Washington’s strategy against Beijing. South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced the change in policy on Friday after a meeting with President Biden.
Previously, South Korea could not develop missiles with a range greater than 800km (497 miles). Without the restriction, Seoul can develop any type of long-range ballistic missile, potentially putting China in range of a US ally’s weapons.
“We are pleased to announce the end of the missile guidelines. This is a symbolic and practical measure to externally show the solidity of the ROK-US alliance along with the conclusion of the ROK-US defense cost agreement in the early days of the Biden administration’s inauguration,” Moon said.
Washington and Seoul recently agreed to a new cost-sharing deal for the approximately 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea. Seoul agreed to a 13.9 percent increase in the cost to house US troops, totaling about $1.03 billion for 2021.
When it comes to North Korea, the Biden administration has not been clear how it will approach Pyongyang, if at all. In the latest vague comments from Biden officials, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he expects no “grand bargain” with North Korea, insisting any deal would take a long time.