North repositions artillery: sources

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North repositions artillery: sources

North Korea is repositioning its arsenal near the South Korean border in an attempt to make it more difficult for long-range artillery fire to inflict significant damage on its resources, according to intelligence sources.

The sources told the JoongAng Ilbo on Sunday that the North Korean military is relocating its long-range artillery fire, which is set up in mountain caves, from near the southern gate of the caves to the northern gate. The North is also building a protective cover over the facility, the sources said.

“Over several years, South Korea and the United States have prepared against the threat from North Korean long-range artillery fire,” said a military official. “As far as I know, the North Korean military is taking measures to improve the chances that its long-range artillery fire will survive [an attack from the South] by repositioning them inside the [caves].”

Another source said if artillery were relocated to the back of the caves, the South Korea-U.S. alliance would have trouble counterattacking a North Korean attack and hitting the North Korean long-range artillery fire with K9 (155-millimeter) artillery and a multiple launch rocket system.

Only a Joint Direct Attack Munition (a kind of smart bomb) or missiles dropped from a combat plane could destroy the long-range artillery fire moved to the rear, the second source said, adding that it would significantly limit the ways Seoul and Washington could respond to an attack.

The protective cover the North is setting up is meant to counter cluster bombs, the second source said. Cluster bombs are air-dropped weapons that eject a cluster of smaller bombs. The sources said the South Korean military is considering developing new weapons that could destroy this cover.

North Korea’s long-range artillery fire, either a 240-millimeter caliber multiple-launch rocket system or a 170-millimeter self-propelled artillery, claim an effective range of 55 to 65 kilometers (34 to 40 miles). According to the South Korean Defense White Paper and other military data, about 600 such North Korean munitions have been set up near the border, posing a significant threat to Seoul.

By Kim Min-seok []
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