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Biden's Asia policy

US and South Korea scrap bilateral missile guidelines

Decades-old accord had limited Seoul's development of ballistic program

Hyunmoo-2 and Hyunmoo-3 ballistic missiles are displayed at a 2017 event commemorating Korea Armed Forces Day in Pyeongtaek, South Korea.   © Reuters

SEOUL -- U.S. restrictions on South Korea's ability to develop missiles have been lifted under an agreement reached by the leaders of the two countries.

"I am pleased to announce the termination of the missile guidelines," South Korean President Moon Jae-in said following his meeting with American counterpart Joe Biden in Washington on Friday.

Under the U.S.-South Korea missile guidelines, which date to 1979 and the government of Park Chung-hee, Washington agreed to the transfer of related technology to Seoul in exchange for caps on the range and payload of ballistic missiles.

The restrictions have been relaxed over the years at the request of Seoul. The payload cap was eliminated in 2017 while a range limit of 800 km remained. South Korea's Hyunmoo-4 ballistic missile is capable of reaching northeastern China and western Japan.

"If the development of midrange missiles capable of reaching China and Russia becomes possible, those governments would be expected to react," said an article in the Chosun Ilbo daily newspaper's online edition Saturday.

North Korea has been critical of the South's ballistic missile program as well.

U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Moon Jae-in hold a joint news conference after a day of meetings at the White House on May 21.   © Reuters

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