To counter N. Korea, South seeks U.S. nod to bolster arms
restrain Pyongyang because the missiles would likely be able to hit Chinese territory as well.
Moon’s top national security advisor, Chung Euiyong, called his White House counterpart, Gen. H.R. McMaster, early Saturday Seoul time to propose that the allies immediately start negotiations to permit South Korea to build up its missile capabilities.
McMaster agreed to the proposal, which would likely involve increasing the payload on South Korea’s ballistic missiles, according to officials in both countries.
South Korea needs approval from the U.S. to build more powerful missiles under the terms of a bilateral treaty.
There are still questions over whether the North can shrink a nuclear weapon to fit atop its intercontinental missiles, or keep it from burning up on re-entry into the atmosphere.
But at the Pentagon and inside U.S. intelligence agencies, there was a sense that the North had now crossed a threshold it has long sought: Demonstrating that if the U.S. ever threatened the regime of Kim Jong Un, the North Korean leader, it had the ability to threaten death and destruction in the continental United States.
“U.S. policy for 21 years has been to prevent this day from coming, and now it has,” said Adam Mount, a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress in Washington, referring to the North’s ICBM test on Friday.