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North preparing possible launch of another ICBM

Pyongyang says UN Security Council composed of hypocrites, plans action

June 01,2009
Defense and intelligence sources in the United States and South Korea said on Saturday North Korea appeared to be preparing to launch a long-range missile.

Two U.S. defense officials told AFP early Saturday, Korean time, that U.S. satellite photos have revealed vehicle activity at two sites in the North. The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the movements resembled preparations before the North’s long-range rocket launch on April 5.

One site was in the west and the other was in the east of North Korea, the officials said. They offered no other details, according to AFP, but said there was no obvious sign from the North’s Yongbyon nuclear plant to suggest the country has reactivated its nuclear program.

Then later Saturday, South Korean intelligence sources said they too had detected an indication that the North could soon fire a long-range missile.

One such source said a cargo train at an artillery research center near Pyongyang was carrying what appeared to be an intercontinental ballistic missile. The source said North Korea could complete the preparation work within two weeks. That could coincide with the South Korea-U.S. summit that begins June 16 in Washington.

Another intelligence source said the object appeared to be similar in size to the long-range rocket that was launched on April 5. He said it could be an upgraded version of the Taepodong-2 missile, which, with an estimated range of between 4,000 kilometers (2,485.5 miles) and 6,500 kilometers, could in theory reach Alaska.

Since its nuclear test last Monday, North Korea has fired six short-range missiles. And late Friday, it blasted the United Nations Security Council, including its ally China and neighbor Russia, for moves to impose sanctions on North Korea. The North threatened to take further “self-defense measures” in response to any sanctions.

“There’s a limit to our patience,” the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the state-run Korean Central News Agency. “If the UN Security Council makes a further provocation, it will be inevitable for us to take further self-defense measures.”

The North called the five permanent members of the Security Council - the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China - “hypocrites.” North Korea argued that “99.99 percent” of all nuclear tests in the world have been conducted by those five and said, “Those countries have posed the biggest nuclear threats in the world. But they took issue with our first nuclear test, which was conducted in October 2006 as a self-defense measure to cope with increased nuclear threats by the U.S.

“It is none other than the U.S. and other forces courting U.S. favor who should be held entirely responsible for driving the situation to such a pass,” the North’s statement read.

South Korea, the United States and Japan were undeterred. Later on Saturday, defense chiefs from the three countries pledged to keep pressing North Korea until it realizes it will not be rewarded for its actions.

The three defense chiefs, Lee Sang-hee of South Korea, Robert Gates of the United States and Yasukazu Hamada of Japan, met in Singapore on the sidelines of a security forum. It was the first such meeting among the three and Lee said their discussions could not have come at a better time.

“North Korea may have mistakenly believed that it could perhaps be rewarded. But that is no longer the case.” Lee said. “We must make North Korea clearly recognize it will not be rewarded for its wrong behavior.”

Gates said the United States would hold North Korea “fully accountable” for its provocations. “Our goal is complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. We will not accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state.”


By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]




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