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SEOUL — The South Korean military won’t be getting the unmanned airplanes the national assembly budgeted for because buying them from the United States would violate a multinational accord, Ministry of Defense officials said Friday.

The assembly cut 5.8 billion won (about $6.2 million) that was earmarked in its defense budget for eventual procurement of Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles because buying them from U.S.-based Northrop Grumman would have violated the Missile Technology Control Regime, the MND spokesman confirmed.

The accord was created in 1987 by the United States and six other nations to control unmanned systems capable of delivering nuclear, chemical and biological weapons.

The MTCR now includes 34 countries, and in 1992, it was expanded to include unmanned airplanes.

The defense ministry asked for UAV funding early in 2007 in hopes that the United States would lift the ban before the recent budget round, the spokesman said Friday.

The ministry still hopes to acquire UAVs and has no plans to acquire additional, alternate surveillance technology, the spokesman said.

The national assembly approved an 8.8 percent increase in military spending for this year to 26.6 trillion won ($28 billion), which is close to what the defense ministry requested.

The ministry is on track to take over wartime operational control of its forces from the United States in 2012.

Price quotes vary on the Global Hawk’s cost. Northrop Grumman estimated costs for its first-generation model at $21 million for each jet, according to earlier reports. Electronic sensors cost $11 million and the mission control system used to control multiple aircraft costs another $11 million.

However, the Government Accountability Office criticized the Global Hawk in 2006 for costing $130.5 million per aircraft. That figure included everything from testing to support equipment.

The Shadow 200 UAVs more commonly used by the U.S. Army in South Korea cost about $275,000, according to

However, Shadows operate at a 15,000-foot ceiling and often fly lower. They also carry far less payload and have about a tenth the wingspan.

Global Hawks, used by the U.S. Navy and Air Force, can stay in the air for up to 36 hours, according to Northrop Grumman.

Stars and Stripes reporter Hwang Hae-rym contributed to this report.

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