South Korea on Tuesday announced it would now be able to develop solid-fuel space rockets under revised missile guidelines, enabling enhanced surveillance capabilities over the Korean peninsula, local media reported.
The development comes after the US lifted decades-old restrictions on Seoul’s use of solid fuels in rockets, Yonhap news reported.
It will enable the country to fly low-orbit military spy satellites at the altitude of 500-2,000 kilometers (310-1,240 miles).
South Korea’s deputy National Security Adviser Kim Hyun-chong told reporters that South Korean companies, research institutes and individuals would technically be capable of developing, producing and possessing space rockets using not only liquid fuels but also solid and hybrid ones “with no restrictions.”
The two sides revised the missile guidelines signed first in 1979 and later amended in 2017 to scrap a payload cap of 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds) for South Korea’s ballistic missiles with ranges of 800 km (500 miles).
“It would help advance the South Korean military’s intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities,” he added.
Effectively, the new deal between Washington and Seoul will help the two allies keep watch over the “entire Korean Peninsula around-the-clock,” as an “unblinking eye,” said Kim.
Whether or not the development triggers a reaction from North Korea is yet to be seen as Pyongyang has been wary of US-South Korea military ties for decades.
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