Pyongyang jams GPS in South and fires missile

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Pyongyang jams GPS in South and fires missile

Pyongyang is jamming the global positioning system (GPS) of planes and vessels in the South and has fired a missile into the sea off its east coast, the South Korean government said on Friday.

These latest provocations came as President Park Geun-hye met and discussed with leaders of the United States, China and Japan ways to deter the North Korean nuclear threat on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in Washington.

“North Korea’s act of disturbance is an obvious provocation that violates the [Korean War] armistice and regulations of the International Telecommunication Union,” the Ministry of Defense said in a statement, urging the North to immediately stop such acts.

The Defense Ministry said the North’s jamming signals, which can reach over 100 kilometers (62 miles), were detected several days ago, and the military went on high alert Thursday around 7:30 p.m.

“The purpose of GPS jamming is to display their power and heighten tension with the South,” a Defense Ministry official said. “Considering the signals are coming from Haeju, South Hwanghae, and Mount Kumgang, the North’s intention is to disrupt the GPS equipment of Incheon International Airport, Navy vessels conducting operations in the West and East Seas, and fishing boats.”

Although the Defense Ministry vowed to retaliate against the North if its attacks incur any damage to South Korean planes or vessels, critics are pointing out that the government ought to take preventive and pre-emptive measures against the interference in GPS signals.

South Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said Friday that the disruption affected 58 planes and 52 vessels in the South, Yonhap News Agency reported, though there has been no significant damage reported so far.

The North fired a surface-to-air missile into the sea on Friday around 12:45 p.m. from South Hamgyong. The missile covered a distance of approximately 100 kilometers, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Friday.

North Korea has fired short-range missiles, mid-range missiles and multiple-rocket launchers in the past few weeks, in defiance of the UN Security Council’s strongest-ever sanctions and the largest annual Seoul-Washington joint military drills in history, initiated after the North’s fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 and its long-range missile test on Feb. 7.

“The U.S. nuclear threat, joint military exercises, sanctions and other moves to stifle the DPRK are the root cause of pushing the situation on the peninsula to the brink of a clash of nuclear weapons,” the spokesman of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency on Thursday.

“If the United States tries to infringe upon the supreme interests and sovereignty of the DPRK even a little bit, the latter will promptly mete out a merciless punishment with all means including nuclear force.”

BY KIM SO-HEE, JEONG YONG-SOO [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]

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