The government wants to push the U.S. to lift restrictions so it can increase the size of missile warheads from 500 kg to 1 ton.
The payload and range of South Korean missiles are severely limited under missile guidelines imposed by the U.S.
A government source here said Monday, "The government raised the need to revise the guidelines during the Seoul-Washington summit in June. We plan to initiate full-fledged negotiations with the U.S. during the annual Security Consultative Meeting" in the second half of this year.
The move goes in tandem with the handover of full operational control of South Korean troops to Seoul.
The U.S. agreed in 2012 to increase the permissible range of the South Korean missiles from 300 km to 800 km, but limited the payload to 500 kg.
Seoul has been developing a missile with that range and successfully conducted a test last month as President Moon Jae-in watched. The missiles will be deployed at the end of this year. But the government wants to equip them with a bigger warhead.
Under the present guidelines, missiles with a maximum range of 500 km can be mounted with a one-ton warhead, and those with a 300-km range with a 1.5-ton warhead. In other words, the payload can be bigger if the range is shorter.
If the permissible payload increases, South Korean missiles could be capable of taking out North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's underground bunkers near Mt. Baekdu near the border with China and other facilities.