North calls for no-sail zone in west, may lob missile

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North calls for no-sail zone in west, may lob missile

North Korea appears to be preparing a missile shoot along the west coast, a military source said yesterday, a move that could further raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The source told the JoongAng Ilbo that Pyongyang called for a ban on sailing in the area off the west coast near the border with South Korea. “North Korea has designated four of the northwestern areas in the Yellow Sea as a no-sail zone between June 19 and June 27,” said the source. “That appears to be a step prior to the firing of a short-range missile.”

A no-sail zone is an area where privately-owned crafts are banned in case ordnance or a missile hits them. The source said North Korea previously designated the same areas as a no-sail zone before it launched a missile. North Korea often conducts artillery practice near Seohan Bay between North Pyongan Province and Hwanghae Province, farther north than the no-sail areas, the source said.

The move comes as South Korea and the U.S. are finalizing the timing of a joint naval drill in the Yellow Sea, which Seoul intends as a protest against the sinking of its warship Cheonan in the same sea on March 26. A multinational investigation last month concluded that North Korea destroyed the Cheonan with a torpedo, killing 46 South Korean soldiers. “The designation of a no-sail zone seems to be a reaction to the joint military drill,” said another military official, adding that there is no concrete signal that North Korea has fired a missile or is about to do so soon. The joint drill was initially scheduled for early this month, but has been delayed at the request of the U.S.


By Jeong Yong-soo [joe@joongang.co.kr]

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