YONGSAN GARRISON, South Korea — A thousand top U.S. military officers in South Korea soon may be able to operate with more confidence their phone conversations aren’t being overheard.

U.S. Forces Korea has moved to get 1,000 specially-encrypted cell phones for senior leaders, Army Lt. Col. Steve Boylan has confirmed. The command asked SK Telecom in March for permission to use the QSec 800 phone, made by Qualcomm, he said. The National Security Agency has approved the QSec 800 for secure communications.

The U.S. government has a contract with Qualcomm, which is working with SK Telecom to certify the phones on the cellular network in South Korea, said Boylan, of the 8th Army public affairs office.

To use any new phones on SK Telecom’s network, the Radio Research Laboratory at the South Korean Ministry of Information and Communication must certify the phones, said Paek Chang-don of the public information section for SK Telecom. Paek said he is not sure if the lab has certified the phones.

The lab has not yet been contacted, said Pae Cha-ho, who works in the Radio Research Laboratory certification division.

The phones use Code Division Multiple Access, a digital technology introduced in 1995 and used in the United States, South Korea, Japan and elsewhere. By assigning a unique code to each call, CDMA allows more callers to use the airwaves at the same time while preserving voice quality, Qualcomm has explained.

— Choe Song-won contributed to this report.

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