Seoul (UPI) Oct 28, 2009
South Korea is eyeing the purchase of at least four spy satellites to monitor North Korea.
Local reports citing an unnamed Defense Ministry official said the purchase would extend over a 10-year period.
The South Korean official said Seoul was considering the option but no official decision had been taken. He did not elaborate.
The news came hot on the heels of local media reports commenting on the Defense Ministry's decision to forge technological cooperation with countries including Germany to pick up the spy satellites.
Seoul's consideration of an expanded spy arsenal against North Korea follows Pyongyang's testing of short-range missiles off its east coast last week.
The Yonhap news agency confirmed the launches that covered the "no sail" zones in parts of the east and west coast of the country.
Citing military experts, the news agency said the launches appeared to be a regular military exercise. Still, the experts did not rule out the possibility that Pyongyang was demonstrating its firepower.
The launches were the first to be reported since early July. They came amid an international scramble to bring the hard-line communist state back into the fold of nuclear disarmament talks with six nations.
On Monday Kurt Campbell, the U.S. assistant secretary of state for East Asia, said Washington was ready to meet one on one with Pyongyang, but only if it leads "rapidly" to full-fledged six-nation denuclearization talks.
In April, North Korea denounced the six-nation forum and its agreements as null and void. The communist state later also tested an atom bomb.
Earlier this month, however, North Korean leader Kim Jong Il told Chinese envoys the North was willing to return to six-way talks, insisting, nevertheless, that it first negotiate directly with the United States to mend "hostile relations."
The six-nation talks have involved China, Japan, North and South Korea, Russia and the United States.
South Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo recently reported that the military plans to buy four spy satellites by 2020. The daily cited an internal memo of the Defense Ministry.
The ministry is purported to have said that Korea could buy them relatively cheaply provided it joins forces with nations such as Germany, which have already developed spy satellites.
It said its own multipurpose satellites, developed for the private sector, were unsuitable for military activities.
With 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, the United States bolsters the nation's 655,000-strong armed forces against the North's 1.2 million-strong army. It also provides some satellite intelligence.
In a recent statement, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that the United States will never have "normal, sanctions-free relations" with a nuclear-armed North Korea and demanded Pyongyang's full nuclear disarmament.
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SKorea may buy satellites to spy on NKorea
Seoul (AFP) Oct 21, 2009
South Korea may buy four spy satellites over the next decade to monitor North Korea, the defence ministry said Wednesday. "Our ministry has been considering it but no decision has been made yet on who will be involved and details have yet to be fixed," a spokesman told AFP. He was commenting on a media report that said the ministry would forge technological cooperation with countries ... read more
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