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South Korea Wants UAVs From US To Watch Over North

Global Hawk UAV in front of the American flag.
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Sep 11, 2006
South Korea will ask the United States to sell it advanced unmanned spy planes so it can keep a better watch over North Korea, media reports said Monday. They said the defence ministry, at a meeting in Washington late this month, will ask the US to reconsider its objections to selling it the "Global Hawk" high-altitude unmanned aerial vehicle.

The request will be informal and is not on the agenda of the Security Policy Initiative meeting, Yonhap news agency and newspapers reported.

The 45-million-dollar craft can cruise at an altitude of 19.5 km (12 miles) for up to 42 hours and identify 30-cm-size (12-inch) objects on the ground.

The defence ministry's request to buy four Global Hawks to increase surveillance of North Korea were rejected during a security committee meeting in June last year, ministry officials said.

The ministry again submitted a written request to the US Department of Defense last month but has yet to hear a response. Washington apparently fears a possible transfer of technology, analysts say.

The communist North declared last year it is a nuclear-armed state and alarmed much of the world in July by test-firing seven missiles into the sea.

South Korea wants to improve its surveillance capability before reaching agreement with its US ally on resuming control over its own military in wartime.

Seoul has proposed an agreement before 2012 while Washington, which has some 30,000 troops in the South, has offered to transfer wartime control by 2009.

Yonhap also reported that a group of US defense experts was in South Korea on Monday to give training on nuclear and conventional weapons inspections.

It quoted defence ministry sources as saying 11 experts from the Defense Threat Reduction Agency began a six-day program for ministry officials.

"The training program is being conducted after our side requested it so as to master the process related to inspecting nuclear and conventional weapons, because that training has been suspended for some 10 years," one official was quoted as saying.

Yonhap said the training will apparently consider a scenario under which the North voluntarily abandons its nuclear weapons program.

It made such a commitment at six-party nuclear disarmament talks in Beijing last September but two months later announced a boycott of further discussions in protest at US financial sanctions.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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