According to Chinese state media outlet Xinhua News Agency, Kim Hyun Chong, deputy director of the National Security Office (NSO) of the Blue House, revealed during a Tuesday news briefing that the revised guidelines lift restrictions on the use of solid fuel for space launch vehicles.
The South Korea-US missile guidelines were established in 1979 to restrict South Korea’s missile development. However, under the revised guidelines, all of the country’s research institutes, companies and individuals are now able to develop space launch rockets that use solid fuels. However, the revised guidelines still block South Korea from building a missile with a range of more than 500 miles.
Solid-fuel rockets can remain in storage for a long time without propellant degradation, and they are frequently used in missiles because they almost always launch reliably.
The revised guidelines would allow South Korea to launch low-Earth-orbit reconnaissance satellites that can improve the country’s intelligence and surveillance capabilities, Kim noted.
“Theoretically, we can launch a low-earth orbit satellite via liquid-fuel rockets, but it’s like delivering a dish of ‘jjajangmyeon’ by a 10-ton truck,” he said, referring to a type of South Korean delivery food, the Associated Press reported.
Lee Choon Geun, a missile expert at South Korea’s Science and Technology Policy Institute, also told AP that South Korea could use low-Earth-orbit surveillance satellites to monitor North Korea, which has more advanced missile capabilities than the South.