U.S., Seoul Agree to Get Rid of Warhead Weight Limit On South Korean Missiles
South Korean President Moon Jae-in and his U.S. counterpart Donald Trump agreed on Monday to scrap a warhead weight limit on South Korea’s missiles in the wake of North Korea’s sixth nuclear test, South Korea’s presidential office said.
In a separate phone call with Russian President Vladimir Putin also on Monday, Moon said the U.N. Security Council should seek ways to sever North Korea’s foreign currency income, including from its workers employed abroad and oil shipments.
Under the existing missile pact between the United States and South Korea, Seoul’s warheads currently face a cap of 500 kg (1100 lb).
The agreement, last amended in 2012, was in the process of being changed in the wake of a series of missile tests by North Korea this year after Moon took office in May, including two intercontinental ballistic missile launches.
An unlimited warhead weight allowance would enable the South to strike North Korea with greater force in the event of a military conflict.
The missiles would still be bound by a flight range cap of 800 km. No changes to the flight range were mentioned in the Blue House statement.
The two presidents made the decision in a phone call, a statement from the Blue House said. They also agreed to apply the strongest sanctions and pressure on North Korea through the United Nations.
Most analysts and policymakers agree cutting off the oil pipeline to North Korea would hurt its economy. It remains to be seen whether China, the North’s biggest ally and trade partner, would cooperate.
South Korea said earlier in the day it was talking to the United States about deploying aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to the Korean peninsula after signs North Korea might launch more missiles.
Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Matthew Mpoke Bigg