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U.S. to sell ‘bunker busters’ to Seoul

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SEOUL (Agence France-Presse) | The United States has agreed to sell "bunker-buster" bombs to South Korea that are capable of destroying underground facilities in North Korea, a military official said Tuesday.

Washington recently approved the sale of GBU-28 bombs, which were used during the 1990-91 Gulf War to destroy underground command centers in Iraq, a defense ministry official told Agence France-Presse on the condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the sale.

The laser-guided bombs, which could be used to hit North Korean missiles and aircraft stored underground, will be delivered to South Korea between 2010 and 2014, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

It said that in the event of war South Korean jet fighters would carry the bombs to attack other underground targets such as North Korea's nuclear facilities and artillery hidden in caves.

South Korea also plans to purchase other high-tech bombs such as JDAMs, JASSMs and GBU-24s, Yonhap said.

GBU-24s perform better at low altitudes and under poor visibility conditions. JDAMs with global positioning systems would be effective against North Korean artillery while JASSMs are precision cruise missiles, Yonhap said.

"These high-tech bombs are some of the most urgently needed weapons for us to deal with North Korean missile sites and artillery guns," a source told the news agency.

Military officials here say the North's artillery deployed in tunnels along the border poses a serious threat to South Korea, especially its capital, Seoul.

Gen. Walter L. Sharp, the top U.S. commander in the South, said in April that the North has the world's largest artillery force.

He said the North is believed to have some 13,000 artillery pieces deployed along the border.

South Korea has generally favored defense equipment from the United States, which has kept troops here since the 1950-53 Korean War to deter aggression by North Korea.

More than 600,000 South Korean troops, backed by 28,500 U.S. troops, are confronting the potential threat from the North's 1.1 million-member military.

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