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SKorea to build up defences against nuclear-armed North

world Updated: Jul 03, 2009 12:26 IST
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South Korea will spend tens of millions of dollars to build up defences against any North Korean nuclear attack, the defence ministry said Friday.

North Korea has vowed to build more nuclear bombs in response to a UN resolution which imposed sanctions for its May 25 nuclear test, the second since 2006.

The South will spend up to 100 billion won (78 million dollars) over the next five years to protect key facilities against electromagnetic pulse (EMP) waves from high-altitude nuclear explosions.

Such waves -- used as a prelude to an all-out attack -- could shut down electronic equipment including weapons systems within tens or even hundreds of kilometres.

"The spending will not be higher than 100 billion won," Brigadier General Jang Gi-Yoon told journalists. He declined to give details on where such anti-EMP facilities will be built.

Their construction is part of a five-year defence plan for 2010-14 which calls for total spending of 178 trillion won.

The ministry also allocated eight billion won in next year's budget to buy Global Hawk unmanned high-altitude spy planes one year earlier than previously planned.

Another 64 billion won was earmarked to buy "bunker buster" bombs by next year, four years earlier than planned.

These can penetrate up to 30 metres (yards) into the ground, enabling them to strike the North's underground nuclear facilities or command posts.

The ministry also plans to purchase cruise missiles known as Joint Air to Surface Standoff Missiles with a range of some 400 kilometres (250 miles), which are used for precision strikes.

It will also spend 269.5 billion won to introduce an early-warning radar system against missiles and 155.3 billion won for guided bombs, Yonhap news agency said.

To upgrade defence technology, the ministry will increase the research and development share of annual defence budgets to 7.4 per cent in 2014 from this year's 5.6 per cent, Jang said.