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NK stops jamming satellite signals in South Korea

Posted May. 16, 2012 06:12,   


North Korea has stopped jamming satellite signals in an apparent attempt to disrupt air and maritime traffic navigation systems in South Korea after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak raised the issue at a summit with Chinese President Hu Jintao in Beijing

Kim Tae-hyo, senior presidential secretary for national security and strategy in Seoul who accompanied President Lee in his visits to Myanmar and China, told a news conference in Beijing on Tuesday, "China was apparently surprised to hear President Lee explain in detail of North Korea`s global positioning system disruptions. Pyongyang stopped it afterwards."

South Korean and Chinese authorities decided to exchange information and come up with necessary plans, Kim added.

The South Korean military also confirmed North Korea`s suspension of GPS disruptions from Monday. A high-ranking official said, "The satellite signals stopped early Monday. We are closely monitoring North Korea`s movements," adding, "Though the signals stopped, there is the possibility that they could start again. We are on alert over other types of provocations."

From April 28 to Sunday, North Korea jammed satellite signals in an apparent attempt to disrupt air and maritime traffic navigation systems in South Korea.

The dominant views on Pyongyang` suspension of jamming signals are that North Korea sufficiently carried out GPS disruption efficiency tests. Over the past 16 days, the North`s GPS signals affected 300 commercial flights and 10 ships going in and out of South Korea.

Experts predict North Korea will make precise analysis of the system`s performance and distance range for stronger and sudden GPS provocations. The signals that Pyongyang sent out are known to influence up to 60 kilometers at sea and 200 kilometers in the air.

A military official said North Korea`s disruptions were meant to test the performance of electronic warfare equipment or interrupt the radio waves of mobile phones in the North to protect leaking of the country`s internal situation. "We are closely monitoring the movements of the (North Korean) military in Kaesong, where the signals originated," the official added.

The decision by South Korea and China to respond to the GPS disruptions also appears to have prompted North Korea to stop jamming signals. A source from the South Korean government said, "North Korea might have felt burdened by the cold-headed stance of its economic supporter China."

ysh1005@donga.com srkim@donga.com