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N. Korea biggest challenge to missile non-proliferation: Seoul

North Korea's advancing ballistic missile programs pose the biggest challenge to the international regime for controlling the proliferation of missile technology, a high-ranking South Korean official said Wednesday. 

"Today, North Korea's ballistic missile program is undoubtedly the biggest challenge" facing the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam said in his opening remarks at the 30th MTCR general meeting held in the southern port city of Busan. 

The MTCR is a multilateral regime for controlling the export of high-end missile technology for which South Korea is the chair country this year. 

"While MTCR partners have been striving to prevent the proliferation of missile technology, North Korea, as both a procurer and proliferator, challenged the international community by disregarding all norms and warnings," Lim stressed. 

This year alone Pyongyang fired off 23 rounds of ballistic missiles with significant ranges, the vice minister pointed out.

"The city of Busan is already within the range of (the North's) Scud missiles."

The country's longer-range missiles can now target the capitals of some MTCR members, Lim pointed out, adding that "This is why we must address this issue squarely bearing in mind the gravity and urgency of the matter."

The MTCR should close the loopholes in their export control regime in order to block out the inflow of sensitive missile components to North Korea, Lim underlined.  

Currently 35 countries, including the U.S. and Russia, are members of the missile control regime established in 1987.  

This year's MTCR meeting will run for five days till Friday, bringing together about 300 government officials and missile experts from member countries. 

India joined the MTCR general meeting for the first time since the country was formally accepted as a member in June. 


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