Defense ministry has requested 2.5 trillion won ($2.1 billion) over the next five years to "drastically" beef up its missile arsenal to better cope with missile and nuclear threats from North Korea, a military official said Tuesday.
The budget request was made at a meeting of relevant ministers on fiscal policy, headed by President Lee Myung-bak on April 28, the official said, days after the South's military unveiled a new cruise missile that can hit any target in North Korea.
"The Ministry of National Defense requested budget funds to drastically strengthen its missile arsenal to cope with threats by North Korea, at the conference on national finance on April 28," the official said on condition of anonymity.
At the conference, the ministry proposed it "needs 2.5 trillion won in its budget over the next five years" to bolster its missile capability, including long-range cruise missiles and the locally-produced GPS-Guided Bomb, the Korean version of the Joint Direct Attack Munition, the official said.
North Korea defied international warnings and launched a long-range rocket on April 13, although it fell apart shortly after take-off.
Concerns have grown that the North may soon conduct a third nuclear test as its two previous rocket launches in 2006 and 2009 were followed by nuclear tests.
In a rare announcement on April 19, the South's military unveiled a new long-range cruise missile that puts all nuclear and missile sites in the North Korean territory within striking distance.
The surface-to-surface Hyunmu-3C has a range of up to 1,500 kilometers. Previous versions of the Hyunmu-3A and Hyunmu-3B, with ranges of 500 km and 1,000 km, are already in service.
Along with the new cruise missile, the South's military has also deployed a new tactical ballistic missile with a range of 300 km, which is "more powerful than" the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System developed by the United States, officials said.
On Monday, high-level diplomats from South Korea, the U.S. and Japan held trilateral talks in Seoul and warned North Korea would risk more sanctions and deepening its isolation if it conducts a nuclear test.
The talks involved Lim Sung-nam, Seoul's chief nuclear envoy, his Japanese counterpart Shinsuke Sugiyama, and Glyn Davies, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea policy.
"It would be a serious miscalculation and mistake if North Korea worked to engage in a nuclear test," Davies said. "If there is a further provocation such as a nuclear test, there will be swift and sure reaction by the international community." (Yonhap)