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North Korea Tests Long-Range Missile

Posted February. 28, 2003 22:47,   


North Korea tested a new long-range cruise missile Monday, not a short-range, 1950s-era weapon as first reported in The Washington Post on Thursday.

Citing U.S. intelligence officials insisting on anonymity, the paper said, "The missile was identified as a long-range variant of China`s HY-2 Silkworm missile dubbed “AG-1” by the Pentagon."

The new anti-ship cruise missile is estimated to have a maximum range of just under 100 miles, which indicates a significant increase in missile power for North Korea, stated the newspaper.

The long range gives Pyongyang`s military an "over the horizon" strike capability that could be used against U.S. aircraft carriers and warships, according to U.S. officials. The AG-1 was first tested in May 1997 from a military base at the Angol army barracks in the northeastern part of North Korea.

U.S. intelligence officials said additional tests by Pyongyang are expected in coming days and the launch facility is being closely watched.

In the meanwhile, North Korea is believed to have tested a rocket booster in January at a Taepodong ballistic missile launch site in Musudanri, Hamgyeong-bukdo, as confirmed by U.S. spy satellite photos and other intelligence reports, the Daily Yomiuri reported on Thursday.

The intelligence data indicate that the launch facility is equipped with a fiber-optic network, while areas around the launch-pad have been roofed in an apparent attempt to deter surveillance, the paper also reported.

Japanese government sources added that there was no sign that a launch of the Taepodong missile is imminent as it has not been confirmed yet that North Korea has begun to assemble the missile`s engine and main body.

North Korea announced it would freeze missile launches following U.S.-North Korea talks held in September 1999. However, it once threatened to resume missile tests last month.

Japanese government sources said that North Korea has continued its missile development program by conducting missile engine tests once or twice a year since late 1999, although it has not launched any missiles.

On Aug. 31, 1998, North Korea test-fired the intermediate-range Taepodong I off a 22m launch-pad, which, after improvements, was heightened to 33m for launching of Taepodong-II in 1999.

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