North fires missiles over two days

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North fires missiles over two days


A file photo shows the type of Chinese longer-range multiple rocket launchers that North Korea may have used Saturday, which it developed with technology from China. [JoongAng Ilbo]

North Korea fired a short-range guided missile off its east coast yesterday despite criticism from Seoul and Washington over the launch of three other missiles Saturday.

“Following the launches yesterday, [North Korea] fired a short-range projectile off the east coast toward the northeast of the East Sea this afternoon,” a Southern military official told the Yonhap News Agency.

On Saturday, North Korea fired three short-range missiles, the South’s Ministry of National Defense said.

“The guided missiles are not long- or intermediate-range ones, but short-range projectiles,” Kim Min-seok, South Korea’s Defense Ministry spokesman said at a briefing Saturday. “We will strengthen our surveillance posture against North Korea so that the missile launch wouldn’t lead to a military provocation.”

Kim didn’t elaborate on the exact time or place of the Saturday launches. But sources told Korean reporters that two missiles were fired at between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m., and the third at between 2 p.m. and 3 p.m.

Washington denounced North Korea’s launch of three short-range guided missiles Saturday warning that Pyongyang would “achieve nothing by threats or provocations.”

Caitlin Hayden, spokeswoman for the White House National Security Council, said in a statement on Saturday, “North Korea will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which only further isolate [it] and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in northeast Asia.

“We continue to urge the North Korean leadership to heed President [Barack] Obama’s call to choose the path of peace and come into compliance with its international obligations,” she said.

South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, which is in charge of all inter-Korean business and interactions, said the missile launch was “very deplorable.”

“We think North Korea’s provocative acts, including the launch of the guided missiles, were really deplorable,” Kim Hyung-suk, spokesman of the ministry, said at a briefing yesterday. “We urge [Pyongyang] to show responsible acts toward us and the international community.”

Some of the Saturday’s three missiles were fired by 300 millimeter caliber multiple rocket launchers, a source told the JoongAng Ilbo, which are regarded as the most threatening weapon to the Southern army.

A high-ranking South Korean government official told the JoongAng Ilbo in February that Pyongyang had developed a high-end multiple rocket launcher with an extended range, from 90 kilometers to 170 kilometers (106 miles), and a higher caliber at 240 to 300 millimeters.

With the new launcher, the North Korean military can technically strike some key military spots in the South, including U.S. bases in Seoul and Pyeongtaek in Gyeonggi, and the South Korean Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps in Gyeryong Military Headquarters in South Chungcheong.

The launcher was reportedly developed with technology from China in the early 2000s. It can carry six to 12 missiles equipped with the Russian satellite navigation system called Glonass.

A government source also told Yonhap that “although we assume the projectiles were probably the KN-02 short-range missiles, we don’t rule out the possibility that they could be fired from 300-caliber rocket launchers.”

“The range of the missiles was more than 100 kilometers,” the source said. “They must be a version of KN-02 or 300 millimeter rockets.”

Earlier this month, Pyongyang reportedly removed two midrange missiles from a launch site on its east coast, raising speculation that the regime was attempting to ease military tension on the Korean Peninsula.

By Kim Hee-jin []

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