South Korea's defense ministry asked for a 28 percent increase in next year's budget to 22.3 trillion won ($18.7 billion). This equals 3.2 percent of gross domestic product, up from 2.7 percent this year.
Earlier this week, South Korean Defense Minister Cho Young-kil said the ministry was considering raising the annual defense spending gradually to a level that represents 3.5 percent of the GDP
The latest budget notably revives plans for the purchanse of the Patriot missile defense system.
The project to bolster South Korea's defense capabilities against North Korean missiles was suspended in February when South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun took office, vowing to step up inter-Korean rapprochement.
This comes on the heels of a US announcement to spend an additional $11 billion on US forces in Korea in the next 3 years and to pull US troops back from the DMZ. The US wanted South Korea to increase defense spending and so this announcement is a win for US policy makers. It is possible that the Bush Administration played hardball and told the South Koreans that the US would pull out of South Korea entirely if South Korea didn't step up to the plate and make a bigger effort to build up its defenses. Also, the South Koreans now have to face the fact that they are going to be alone up there on the DMZ and had better be well equipped. Plus, they now understand the US could get sufficiently confrontational with North Korea that a real war is a distinct possibility at some point.
North Korea can not afford to compete with the United States and South Korea in an arms spending race. This latest news is additional pressure on the Pyongyang regime. There are obvious historical parallels that can be drawn with the US arms spending build-up of the 1980s and its contribution to bankrupting the Soviet Union. Whether the North Korean regime will also collapse as a result remains to be seen.
|Share |||By Randall Parker at 2003 June 11 11:58 AM Military War, Rumours Of War|