S Korea`s military wants budget increased sharply

S Korea`s Defense Ministry seeks sharp rise in next year`s budget to improve its fighting capability.

Last Updated: Jun 30, 2010, 15:05 PM IST

Seoul (S Korea): South Korea`s Defense
Ministry is seeking a sharp increase in next year`s budget to
improve its fighting capability due to tensions over the
deadly sinking of a warship blamed on North Korea, an official
said today.

Defense Ministry officials have agreed to request about
31.6 trillion won (USD 25.8 billion) next year to introduce
new weapons and improve military hardware and welfare
facilities for troops, a ministry official said on condition
of anonymity, citing department policy.

The amount would represent a 6.9 per cent increase from
the 29.5 trillion won budgeted this year, which was a 3.6
per cent increase from the year before, he added.

"The Cheonan incident was reflected" in the ministry`s
request for a higher budget, the official said.

An international investigation concluded last month that
North Korea torpedoed the South Korean warship Cheonan near
the tense Korean sea border in late March, killing 46 sailors.

North Korea flatly denies it launched an attack and has warned
any punishment would trigger war.

The official declined to elaborate on what kinds of new
weapons the ministry wants to introduce with the proposed
budget because it still needs final approval from the defense
minister and the Ministry of Strategy and Finance.

Yonhap news agency, citing an unidentified military
official, reported that the ministry is pushing to bolster its
defense capability to cope with limited warfare with North
Korea.

Also, Gen Han Min-koo, the nominee to the become the
new chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers
today that he would propose a 7 percent increase in the
defense budget, according to the Defense Ministry.

PTI