The chair of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Democratic Party Senator Carl Levin has declared that he would not necessarily disagree with South Korea extending the range of its ballistic missiles, according to Yonhap.
Levin, who was speaking at the National Press Club in Washington, DC yesterday, said, "If they want to do it in a non-threatening way, totally defensive way at their own expense, I don't have any problem going on.”
Such a step "should not be viewed as a kind of offensive, taking an offensive position or threatening position towards China or toward North Korea," he added.
South Korea is one of 34 signatories to the voluntary Missile Technology Control Regime, which forbids the development of ballistic missiles with a range longer than 300km and a payload of more than 500kg.
However, Seoul has already developed the Hyunmoo series of cruise missiles, the most advanced version of which is able to travel up to 1,500km, bringing any point on the Korean Peninsula within range. In addition, South Korea's space program based on Russian technology is also viewed in some quarters as a violation of the spirit, albeit not the letter, of the regime.
Meanwhile, speaking in the context of the need for defense savings to avoid triggering automatic spending cuts next year, Levin also moved to question the United States’ ability to pay for planned housing provision for families of troops dispatched to South Korea.
"Particularly, we cannot afford to be spending, I believe it was a figure like $10,000 a month for family housing that was planned in order to have more families come over and be with our troops in Korea. We cannot afford that," he said.
Levin added that he hopes to see some progress toward reducing troop numbers in South Korea.
However, he also said that he would not want to see Defense budget cuts rise above an additional $10 billion a year over a 10-year period.