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N. Korea secretly pursuing missile development: sources

Posted November. 17, 2011 01:29,   


North Korea is known to have conducted a test on a long-range missile`s engine combustion and an air-to-ship missile fire drill, part of Pyongyang`s dual-track strategy of pursuing dialogue and saber rattling at the same time, experts say.

Multiple sources said Wednesday that the North tested the engine combustion of its long-range Taepo-dong missile at a launch site in Musudan-ri, North Hamkyong Province. The South Korean government has reportedly been closely watching movements of the Stalinist country since the test.

One source said, "The North has regularly conducted engine tests to maintain the performance of its missiles," adding, "It`s premature to say a missile launch is imminent."

No confirmation has been made if a missile`s body was transferred to the launch site, either.

Considering that heir apparent Kim Jong Un is being promoted as an artillery expert and just a month remains before the North`s declared first year of being a "great and powerful nation," however, the prospects that Pyongyang takes steps for the missile launch cannot be ruled out.

The North test-fired long-range missiles from the Musudan-ri launch site on April 5 last year.

Pyongyang is also known to have recently fired air-to-ship missiles into waters in the Yellow Sea. A government source in Seoul said, "The North Korean IL-28 bomber fired air-to-ship missiles in the Yellow Sea twice, last month and early this month."

The air-to-ship missiles the North fired are known to be remodeled Styx missiles with a range of 46 kilometers and have been deployed along the North Korean shore.

To prepare for an air-to-ship missile attack on South Korean patrol ships and destroyers, the South`s armed forces are known to be strengthening their anti-aircraft defense systems.