SEOUL, Oct. 8 (Yonhap) -- South Korea plans to complete the deployment of new ballistic missiles with ranges of 550 and 800 kilometers in five years, a government source here said Monday, a follow-up measure for a revised missile agreement with the United States aimed at deterring threats from North Korea.
The latest move comes after Seoul announced Sunday that it has reached a landmark agreement with the U.S. to extend the range of its missiles by more than twice the current limit to 800 km, while maintaining the maximum payload at the current level of 500 kilograms.
Under the new guideline, the military will push to deploy 550-km and 800-km range missiles in five years, with a 2.4 trillion won (US$2.1 billion) budget set aside for the 2013-2017 defense plan aimed at bolstering its missile defense system, the source said, asking anonymity as he is not allowed to talk about military information.
The budget was included in a 61.4 trillion won 2013-2017 defense spending plan, which mainly called for bolstering the nation's missile system to defend against the North, which it said had developed missiles that could reach the peninsula.
"The military has asked the government to spend 500 billion won for this plan from next year," the official said. "As next year's budget bill was submitted to the National Assembly, it depends on whether the parliament accepts it or not."
Gen. Jung Seung-jo, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, speaks at a parliamentary inspection held at the defense ministry on Oct. 8, 2012. (Yonhap)
Although the defense ministry has not yet decided when to deploy the new ballistic missiles, Seoul officials say it won't take long to develop the ballistic missiles that can fly up to 800 km.
"We have constantly pursued missile technology to prepare future and accumulated technology quite close to the level," Shin Won-shik, a ministry official in charge of the defense policy, said in a Sunday briefing. He said the deployment will be decided in "an appropriate time" depending on the budget and other circumstances.
On Monday, Gen. Jung Seung-jo, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the new guideline would allow the South Korean military to more "flexibly" handle North Korean provocations, noting related agencies have accumulated expertise in developing longer-range missiles.
"From the Joint Chiefs of Staff's point of view, (the agreement) is satisfactory because it would allow (South Korea's missile system) to cover all parts of North Korea from the southern area," Jung said during a parliamentary inspection held at the defense ministry. "The South Korean military is considering a pre-emptive strike if North Korea shows signs of using nuclear weapons in time of war."
Jung also said that the threat of the North forcibly occupying the islands near the Yellow Sea border between the two Koreas has reached a "serious" level but the military is well prepared to deal with any such case.
"In case that the islands are forcibly occupied by the North, we will surely have to take them back and we now have proper countermeasures in place," he said.
Defense ministers of the two sides will further discuss how to integrate the major military command C4I system with the Korean Air and Missile Defense System using information collected by the U.S. satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles in the upcoming Security Consultative Meeting (SCM) slated for later this month in Washington, according to officials.
In April, Pyongyang unsuccessfully fired off a long-range rocket, which the international community condemned as a disguised test of its missile technology.
South and North Korea share the world's most heavily fortified border. The two sides are still technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 American troops are stationed in South Korea to help deter North Korean aggression.