South Korea leader could seek more defense spending despite 'conciliatory' approach


May 12 (UPI) — South Korea’s military is expected to undergo significant reform under newly elected President Moon Jae-in.

Although Moon has been linked to a more conciliatory approach to North Korea after his election, there have so far been no indication he would cut back on military spending.

According to Yonhap, Moon supports an increase in defense spending, or bringing it close to 3 percent of Korea’s gross domestic product.

The new president’s policies could also pave the way for Seoul to acquire its own nuclear submarine.

Seoul’s defense ministry said Friday it has begun preparing for amendments under Moon, who pledged to change South Korea’s armed forces in significant ways, Yonhap reported.

“The era has come that a nuclear submarine is necessary for us,” Moon said in the course of his campaign.

“For this, I will discuss a revision to the nuclear accord” with the United States, Moon had said in April prior to his election.

The South Korean leader was referring to the nuclear cooperation agreement between Washington and Seoul, signed in June 2015.

The accord requires U.S. permission before South Korea can undertake certain measures, including reprocessing U.S.-origin spent fuel, such as spent fuel from South Korea’s U.S.-designed reactors.

During the presidential race, Moon had also proposed a more independent missile defense system.

The South Korean president may be seeking an early deployment of Korean Air and Missile Defense, also known as KAMD.

In April, Seoul was in the final phase of developing a low-tier missile defense system, the M-SAM, which is a key component of KAMD.

His ruling party has also called for a review of THAAD deployment.

The U.S. missile defense system was moved to its designated site in central South Korea before Moon took office, and Moon had said the deployment should come under review.

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