S. Korea to increase defense budget by 7.5 pct annually for 5 years

Source: Xinhua| 2019-01-11 18:01:11|Editor: Xiang Bo
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SEOUL, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- South Korea's defense ministry said Friday that it will increase defense budget by a yearly average of 7.5 percent in the next five years, according to local media reports.

Under the mid-term defense budget plan, 270.7 trillion won (242.6 billion U.S. dollars) will be spent on strengthening independent defense capability from 2019 to 2023.

It represents a yearly average increase of 7.5 percent, higher than an average growth of 4.9 percent for the past 10 years.

Among the total, 94.1 trillion won (84.3 billion U.S. dollars) was allocated to enhance the military's defense capability. The remaining 176.6 trillion won (158.2 billion U.S. dollars) would be spent on operating military assets and troops.

About two-thirds of the defense capability enhancement budget would be spent on countering threats from nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction (WMD), and preparing for the wartime operational command of South Korean troops from the United States.

South Korea's wartime operational command was handed over to the U.S.-led UN Command after the Korean War broke out in 1950. The country regained its peacetime command in 1994.

Seoul was supposed to retake the wartime control in 2015, but it was delayed on tensions on the Korean Peninsula. Seoul and Washington agreed in 2014 to a conditions-based wartime command transfer.

To improve defense capability, South Korea planned to procure military satellites, mid- and high-altitude surveillance drones and long-range air-to-surface guided missiles in the next five years.