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South Korea expands ballistic missile system range, after US nod

The deal comes after years of negotiations between the US and South Korea over the latter's military capabilities - an agreement sped up by North Korea's long range missile test in April.

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South Korea will expand the range of its ballistic missile systems under a new agreement with the US. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

South Korea has announced plans to expand the range of its ballistic missiles after a new agreement with the United States.

The deal comes after years of negotiations between the US and South Korea over the latter's military capabilities - an agreement sped up by North Korea's long range missile test in April.

The South Korean government said that it would nearly triple the range of the missiles to approximately 500 miles, according to the Washington Post.

That would mean that it would be able to strike every corner of its nemesis North Korea as well as parts of China.

According to the Associated Press, the previous deal from 2001 also limited the payload of any missile to about 1,100 pounds of explosives.

The new deal ups the payload to over 3000 pounds.

BBC said that South Korea confirmed that the move was not a new strategy but rather a symbol of a strong alliance with the US and deterrent to North Korean aggression.

"The biggest purpose of the revision is curbing military provocations by North Korea," said National Security Adviser Chun Yung-woo, reported BBC.

South Korea has been insisting on longer missile ranges and greater payloads to match their North Korean counterparts' capabilities but the US has until now refused citing the possibility of an arms race on the peninsula.

The South will become responsible for operation control of the military in the possibility of a war with the North in 2015 as part of another agreement.

Yet, the US still has more than 28,000 troops in South Korea and will continue to provide security guarantees.

North Korea has not yet commented on the new missile agreement, though they are not expected to be pleased.

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http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/south-korea/121007/south-korea-expands-ballistic-missile-system-r