Pyongyang has removed its 2 missiles: U.S. sources

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Pyongyang has removed its 2 missiles: U.S. sources

North Korea has reportedly removed two medium-range missiles from a launch site on its east coast after making threats against U.S. bases in Asia and some neighboring countries.

Several U.S. officials told Reuters yesterday Pyongyang has taken the intermediate-range Musudan missiles off launch status. The missiles have a range of 4,000 kilometers, or 2,485 miles, making them theoretically capable of striking the U.S. territory of Guam.

Another U.S. source also told CNN that the missiles were sent to a storage facility.

Still, the officials were uncertain whether Pyongyang’s earlier threats were totally withdrawn as the missiles could still be mobile.

Sources in Seoul and Washington had said North Korea appeared to be ready to fire the untested missiles along with a bunch of short-range Scud and Rodong ballistic missiles toward the East Sea.

In response, the allies prepared a series of missile interceptors and cutting-edge weapons, including a stealth fighter jet and radar-equipped warships, officially warning that they would shoot down any missiles invading their territory.

Meanwhile, Pyongyang also lifted its highest military alert, a source in Seoul told the Yonhap News Agency yesterday.

A high-ranking South Korean government source said yesterday that Pyongyang appeared to have lifted the so-called “Combat Readiness Posture No. 1” at the end of April. It was issued on March 26 for strategic rocket and long-range artillery units.

But another high-ranking South Korean official told reporters that it’s too early to say that Pyongyang’s threats are over and a change of strategy is in the making.

“The Ministry of National Defense is checking,” the official said yesterday. “Some say the North could be planning a broad change in its policies, but it’s too early to interpret as such.”

A frontline army command of North Korea issued a threat against the South yesterday in protest of ongoing Seoul-Washington joint antisubmarine drills in the Yellow Sea.

Starting Saturday, South Korean and U.S. navies began a joint maritime drill to guard against a submarine attack by the North like the 2010 torpedoing of the Cheonan warship.

A total of seven U.S. nuclear-powered submarines were sent to the Yellow Sea.

The western front-line command of the North Korean People’s Army issued a statement saying it would make the five westernmost islands of South Korea “seas of fire” if the allies continued the exercises.

“The U.S. imperialists and the South Korean puppet groups once again entered the path of pushing forward with the artillery drills in waters near Baengyeong Island and Yeonpyeong Island, as soon as they finished the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle joint military exercises,” the report said.

“If there is even one artillery shell falling into our waters, we will immediately start a counterattack.”


By Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]

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