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Gov`t Stays Cool Amid Latest NK Missile Launches

Posted October. 13, 2009 22:48,   


The government has refrained from making an official response to North Korea’s missile launches Monday, opting to remain low key.

The North launched five short-range missiles over the East Sea and is expected to test-fire another set in the Yellow Sea.

A Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry official said yesterday, “North Korea’s launch of five short-range missiles is in violation of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1874,” but added, “We have no plan to make an official announcement.”

A Unification Ministry official sounded a similar note, saying, “The missiles were confirmed to be the same kind the North launched in the past,” adding, “We believe this will not stand in the way of working-level talks with the North scheduled for today and tomorrow.”

Seoul’s low-profile response is in stark contrast to its reaction after Pyongyang’s July 4 launch of one short-range and six mid-range missiles over the East Sea. At the time, the South denounced the move, saying, “The act is in clear violation of the U.N. Security Council resolution.”

Nobody in the South Korean government disagrees that the North violated the resolution, which bans all ballistic missile-related activities, but officials have shown subtle differences over what to do.

The government said Monday’s launch is different from that of July in the level of military threat. Most of the missiles launched in July had a range of 400 to 500 kilometers, but those fired Monday had a short range of up to 160 kilometers.

One official in Seoul said, “Customarily, the international community doesn’t raise issue with a short-range missile launch if it doesn’t threaten regional peace.”

Many warn, however, that the South Korean government’s view of the short-range missile launch as customary will weaken public awareness of national security.

Seo Jae-jin, director of the Korea Institute for National Unification, said, “Short-range missiles targeting South Korea are a more substantial and real threat to us than long-range missiles aimed at the U.S.”

Ruling Grand National Party Chairman Chung Mong-joon added, “The people should recognize such a stark reality.”