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N.Korea Launches Missiles into the Yellow Sea

Posted March. 29, 2008 08:19,   


North Korea fired a volley of short-range missiles into the sea from its west coast at 10 a.m. on Mar. 28.

ROK Joint Chiefs of Staff announced, “North Korea launched short-range missiles into the Yellow Sea. The test firing seems aimed at checking the performance and raising the operation capability of the missile.”

Nine months ago last June, North Korea launched KN-O2 ground-to-ground missiles at a range of 100 to 120 km into the East Sea.

According to military officials, the missiles were fired from a warship near Nampo.

“We can’t confirm where the missiles were launched and where they fell as this might reveal how we got this information. We are watching North Korea’s movements closely,” an official at the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

According to another government source, North Korea fired Russian “Styx” ship-to-ship missiles with a range of 46 km.

Analysts are looking into whether the missile test is part of Pyongyang’s winter military training, which the North has been conducting since the end of last year, or if this is aimed at ratcheting up tensions in the region. This comes a day after North Korea expelled South Korean government officials from a joint industrial complex in Gaesong.

A high-ranking military official said, “As of now, it seems that North Korea wanted to check the capability of a new short-range missile. Considering the range and direction of the missiles fired, we don’t see military intentions from Pyongyang.”

The presidential office of Cheong Wa Dae played down the launches, saying, “The government regards North Korea’s missile firing as merely a part of its ordinary military training,” presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said. “We believe that the North doesn’t want to undermine South-North relations.”

President Lee Myung-bak was briefed on the missile launches by Senior Presidential Secretary for Foreign Affairs and National Security Kim Byung-kook during the president’s meeting with his secretaries.

Meanwhile, as Pyongyang expelled 11 South Korean government officials from the Gaesong Industrial Complex and launched missiles, relations between the two Koreas will be affected. This will also have an impact on the coming general elections in the South.

A North Korean foreign ministry official in a statement carried by state media said, “If the U.S. keeps insisting what does not exist exists and delays the settlement of the nuclear issue, it will have a serious impact on the dismantlement of nuclear facilities...We can never be a scapegoat to justify the Bush administration’s unfounded assertions.”

Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade Yu Myung-hwan said, “We need to hold the six party talks next month to create momentum and to continue to hold the talks even after a new U.S. president takes office.” He added that North Korea should supply a list of its nuclear programs by next month.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher R. Hill, the top U.S. envoy to the six-way talks, will visit South Korea next week.

Although Hill comes to Korea to participate in an event commemorating the establishment of the Korea Center by Asia Society on Apr. 12, his visit is drawing attention as he had a meeting with North Korea’s vice foreign minister, Kim Kye Kwan, on Mar. 13 while dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang continues.