SEOUL, S.Korea - South Korea should seek longer-range missiles to deter threats from North Korea, Seoul's incoming top military officer said Thursday.
"As North Korea is threatening us with various missiles such as Rodongs and Scuds, we also need to upgrade our missile capability," said General Lee Sang-Eui, named as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
"We will study, over the long term, ways to bolster missile capability while taking into account our security needs," Lee said in a statement to parliament's national security committee, which began a vetting process.
Under an agreement with the United States, which stations 28,500 troops in South Korea, Seoul restricts its missiles to a maximum range of 300 kilometres (187 miles).
There have been calls to end the pact since North Korea launched a long-range rocket in April and staged its second nuclear test in May.
But in July General Walter Sharp, commander of US forces in South Korea, said he saw no immediate need for South Korea to develop longer-range missiles.
The North has about 600 Scud missiles capable of hitting targets in South Korea, and possibly also of reaching Japanese territory in some cases.
There are another 200 Rodong-1 missiles which could reach Tokyo.
In addition the North has three times test-launched long-range Taepodong missiles, most recently in April.
The two Koreas have remained technically at war since their 1950-53 war ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty.