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South Korea Eyes Independent Missile Defense System
File image of a S.Korean rocket launch.
File image of a S.Korean rocket launch.
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Dec 20, 2006
South Korea will seek to build an independent missile defense system amid growing security jitters sparked by North Korea's missile and nuclear tests, officials said Wednesday. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCC) called for development of the program in his command book following the North's nuclear test on October 9, a JCC official said.

"The book, which sets the direction of our long-term strategy, stressed the necessity for a program to develop our own missile defenses," he told AFP on condition of anonymity.

The system will be designed to intercept low-altitude missiles, Yonhap news agency said. South Korea will not join the United States and Japan in developing joint missile defenses.

"Given the geography of the Korean peninsula, the missile system will be for a low-altitude one designed to repel low-flying guided missiles (such as) Scuds and Rodong missiles," a military source was quoted as saying.

The North's missile development prompted South Korea to beef up its air defense capability.

As part of its independent system South Korea has announced plans to buy 48 second-hand Patriot missiles from Germany from 2008. It also wants ground control equipment for the Patriots from the US.

The US has upgraded its Patriot batteries in South Korea, Yonhap said. It is also aggressively developing US-based defenses against long-range missiles.

The US and its allies regard the North's missile development as a major threat to regional security on top of its nuclear ambitions.

North Korea has already deployed short-range Scuds and Rodongs with a range of 1,300 kilometres (780 miles), while actively developing longer-range Taepodong missiles that theoretically could reach parts of the United States.

It launched a Taepodong over Japan in 1998, sparking a major security alert.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Washington (UPI) Dec 19, 2006
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