SEOUL, March 7 (Yonhap) -- Chinese hackers allegedly broke into a computer network run by South Korea's defense ministry last year and stole secret documents on a plan to buy spy drones from the United States, an opposition lawmaker here said Monday.
The alleged hacking occurred in June last year, and the South Korean government has not raised the issue with the Chinese government because of a potential diplomatic row, Rep. Shin Hak-yong of the Democratic Party said in a statement.
"After being confirmed by an intelligence authority, our military's secret plan to procure unmanned aerial vehicles was hacked by China in June last year," Shin said in the statement.
"The issue is very serious because the incumbent government has not lodged a complaint with China even though it confirmed the hacking incident," Shin said.
In the statement, Shin didn't specify how the alleged hacking occurred. Shin could not be reached for comment, and calls to his aide seeking elaboration also went unanswered.
The South's defense ministry also declined to comment on the lawmaker's claim.
South Korea has long pushed to procure four U.S. unmanned aerial vehicles to enhance its surveillance capability on North Korea.
The South's request to buy the Global Hawks was rejected in 2005 as the U.S. insisted that the Missile Technology Control Regime, which covers the unmanned planes, should be revised first. Then in 2009, the U.S. reportedly decided to sell the Global Hawks to South Korea.
The US$50 million craft, which can fly up to 3,000 kilometers and zoom in on a ground target just 0.3 meters large, could be used to improve reconnaissance missions over North Korea.
About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War that ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.
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