For decades, the U.S. kept tight limits on how far and how potent South Korea’s ballistic missiles could be, reflecting concerns that Seoul might unilaterally raise tensions with nearby China, North Korea and Russia.
But last month, the Biden administration removed the final limits on Seoul’s missile program, abolishing what had been a roughly 500-mile cap on South Korea’s ballistic-missile range. It is a key change: Seoul’s missiles, in theory, can now fly far enough to strike Beijing, Moscow or anywhere else.
Kim Jong Un’s regime in North Korea has been expanding its nuclear arsenal, and China’s military strength has been growing. The U.S., without provoking others by moving in its own weapons, can see a close ally develop technology that strengthens its own regional military deterrence. Seoul gets back its full nonnuclear weapons sovereignty after long advocating for such a move.