South Korea develops cruise missile capable of reaching North Korea

South Korea has developed its first cruise missile, local media reported Thursday, describing it as capable of reaching most parts of neighboring North Korea.

The missile, developed jointly by the military and the state-run Agency for Defense Development, has a range of 500 kilometers (310 miles) and is capable of hitting targets in the far northern parts of the communist North, the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reported. Yonhap news agency carried a similar report.

Both reports cited unnamed military officials.

Officials at Defense Acquisition Program Administration and the Agency for Defense Development declined to comment on the reports.

In July, Defense Minister Yoon Kwang-ung said South Korea was seeking to develop cruise-missile technology.

South Korea will produce more cruise missiles within a year or two, and deploy them at guided missile headquarters and aboard 1,800-ton submarines, according to the JoongAng Ilbo. South Korea also plans to develop cruise missiles with a range of 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) within five years, the report said.

Under a South Korea-U.S. missile agreement signed in 2001, South Korea can only develop missiles with a range of less than 300 kilometers (200 miles) and a payload under 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds).

But there is an exception in case of cruise missiles. South Korea can develop a cruise missile with no restriction on range as long as its payload is under 500 kilograms (1,100 pounds).

Tensions on the divided Korean Peninsula have heightened since the North's test-firing of a barrage of missiles in July. The two Koreas remain technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a cease-fire, not a peace treaty.

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