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Wednesday, 17 January, 2001, 13:55 GMT
S Korea extends missile range
North Korea shows off military might
Rival Pyongyang has developed powerful missiles
South Korea has been given the go-ahead to develop missiles capable of hitting targets in most of the North, despite fears of an arms race.

Seoul will be allowed to manufacture missiles with a range of 300km (190 miles) and a payload of 500kg, under an accord reached with the United States.

Missile test
Pyongyang alarmed the region with its 1998 missile tests
The previous 1979 agreement with the US limited South Korea's missile range to 180km.

Seoul sought the extension to counter missile threats from Communist North Korea and leave it less reliant on Washington for defence.

The new guidelines also permit the development of civilian rockets for peaceful aerospace projects.

Arms race fears

The accord follows five years of talks between South Korea and the US on missile development.

Map showing 180km and 300km range
Map showing 180km and 300km range
Correspondents say Washington had feared the development of South Korean missiles could provoke an arms race on the peninsula.

The two Koreas have remained technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armed truce rather than peace treaty.

Both sides agreed to work towards ending hostilities at historic talks last June between the South's President Kim Dae-jung and the North's leader Kim Jong-il.

But defence analysts in Seoul say there has been little change in North Korea's military deployments despite the new thaw in relations.

Missile test

Reports say the North still has most of its 1.1 million-strong army near the border, backed by 10,000 artillery guns within shooting range of Seoul.

Analysts say its summer military exercises were the most extensive in years.

Pyongyang stunned the world in August 1998 by test-firing a rocket over Japanese territory, although it insisted it was only aimed at putting a satellite into orbit.

Washington, which keeps 37,000 troops in South Korea, is also concerned that the North could build a rocket capable of delivering a bomb over a US city by 2005.

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See also:

16 Jan 01 | Asia-Pacific
'Surprise China visit' for Kim Jong-il
28 Dec 00 | Asia-Pacific
Clinton will not visit North Korea
03 Nov 00 | Asia-Pacific
No deal in N Korea missile talks
24 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Korean missile breakthrough
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