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S. Korea eyes extra US$194 mln for defense spending
By Kim Eun-jung
SEOUL, April 16 (Yonhap) -- The defense ministry said Tuesday it will submit a 217.4 billion won (US$194.3 million) supplementary budget to the parliament for approval to increase spending on weapons on the frontlines and shelters on border islands to better counter North Korean threats amid high tensions.

   The Cabinet approved an extra budget worth 17.3 trillion won for this year in a bid to revitalize the economy faced with gloomy market conditions at home and abroad. The budget is the largest since 2009 when the nation unveiled 28.4 trillion won in additional spending in the wake of the global financial crisis.

   If the bill is passed in parliament, a total of 34.5 trillion won will be set aside for this year's defense spending.

   With the budget, the defense ministry said it plans to increase K-9 self-propelled howitzers and shelters on the northwestern border islands, which lie just south of heavily armed North Korean forces.
It also will reinforce the surveillance system for front-line troops and develop indigenous mid-altitude unmanned aerial vehicles (MUAV) to better watch North Korea's military moves and its major facilities.

   Other projects include spending on chemical warfare protection supplies and guided ship-to-ship missiles, the ministry said in a release.

   The latest move comes as the nation's armed forces have been on high alert to deal with unprovoked attacks by the North, which has issued near-daily threats of war against Seoul and Washington in an angry response to their annual joint drills in the South.