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South Korea catches up to North Korea on the space race

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Washington is still somewhat worried about a space race with the North, says Scott Snyder, senior fellow for Korea Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations. But after South Korea and the US reached a new missile agreement in October, allowing Seoul to develop longer-range ballistic missiles capable of striking all of North Korea with stronger warheads, it appears likely that Washington would no longer oppose the South’s development of long-range missiles.

Mr. Snyder says that given the technical problems that South Korea has had with Russia as a partner in its attempts to launch the "Naro rocket," it may now seek out a new partner and should look at NASA as an option.

Meanwhile, for Washington, “the opportunities could potentially outweigh the concerns at this point” to working with Seoul rather than against it, says Snyder. The US needs to consider carefully how it interacts with close ally Seoul, when the competition is Russia. US-South Korean collaborative efforts could benefit America economically and strategically, he says. 

James Clay Moltz, a professor at the Naval Postgraduate School, agrees. South Korea “can expand its reach into space by building more intensive cooperative links with its friends and allies, thus allowing it to cost-share in international missions and satellite constellations without having to own or construct all of the technology,” he says.

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