In 1979, Seoul obtained from the United States an important technology transfer agreement for the development of its own ballistic missiles, in order to cope with the rise of North Korea in this field, very supported in this by Beijing and Moscow. On the other hand, this agreement included a clause limiting the range of South Korean missiles to 180 km, and the power of the military charge, obviously conventional, to 500 kg of explosives. With the appearance of new North Korean models, more efficient and more powerful, and capable of potentially carrying nuclear charges, Washington modified these limitations twice; the first time in 1997 to reach a range of 300 km, then a second time in 2012 to increase it to 800 km, and thus be able to target most of North Korean territory.
However, in recent years, Pyongyang has shown immense progress in the field of ballistic missiles. Not only did the country demonstrate that it now had intercontinental ballistic missiles, and ballistic missiles with changing media, but he demonstrated his ability to implement short and medium range ballistic missiles with semi-ballistic trajectory, particularly difficult to intercept for anti-missile systems to impact kinetics like the THAAD or the Patriot PAC. At the same time, growing tensions between Washington and Beijing have led the latter to announce that in the event of a conflict between the United States and China, the PLA would also target US allies in the region, of which South Korea is obviously a part.
Seoul and Washington's announcement this week to the final and complete lifting of the range and power restrictions on ballistic missiles developed by South Korean industry was therefore more or less expected. For South Korea, it is not only a question of having the means to neutralize the threat posed by the North Korean missile at its borders, but also of creating, for Washington, a new direct threat for Beijing, since the South Korean missiles like the Hyunmoo-4 (in main illustration) already have a range of more than 800 km, and are capable of carrying 2 tons of explosive with an accuracy of a few meters, sufficient to eliminate bunkerized command posts for example.
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