The Associated Press & Al Jazeera America – 2015-04-04 01:45:21
North Korea Test-fires Projectiles
Amid US-South Korean Military Drills
The Associated Press
(April 3, 2015) — North Korea fired short-range projectiles into the sea for a second consecutive day Friday in an apparent protest against ongoing US-South Korean military drills, South Korean officials said.
Four projectiles with a range of 87 miles were fired into waters off North Korea’s west coast on Friday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. It said North Korea also fired the same type of short-range projectile on Thursday.
It said the projectiles were seen as a protest against the military drills, which North Korea says are a rehearsal for an invasion.
“With no rhetoric can the US and the south Korean puppet war maniacs cover up the aggressive nature of the war exercises,” said KCNA, the official North Korean news service.
South Korea and the US have repeatedly said the drills are defensive in nature. The drills began early last month and are to end on April 24.
North Korea has responded to South Korea-US drills in the past with its own military training involving missile and rocket launches.
Earlier this year, North Korea said it was willing to impose a temporary moratorium on its nuclear tests if Washington canceled the drills. The US rejected the offer.
The US stations about 28,500 troops in South Korea in a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
North Korea Announces Test of New Missiles
The Associated Press
(June 27, 2014) — North Korea said Friday that leader Kim Jong Un has guided the test launches of its newly developed precision-guided missiles, in a possible reference to three short-range projectiles that South Korean officials say the North fired toward its waters a day earlier.
South Korean defense officials said the projectiles, fired from an eastern port city Thursday, flew about 120 miles before harmlessly landing into the waters off its east coast. The exact type of those projectiles and the North’s intentions weren’t immediately known.
The North’s state media said Friday that the country tested what it calls “cutting-edge ultra-precision tactical guided missiles” and that Kim watched the tests with top deputies and was satisfied with the results.
There is virtually no way to independently confirm whether North Korea has developed such high-tech missiles. Pyongyang has frequently exaggerated about its military capability, and its army, though one of the world’s largest, is seen as running on outdated equipment and short supplies amid the nation’s chronic economic problems, according to foreign analysts.
Outside analysts say North Korea has developed a handful of crude nuclear devices and is working toward building a warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile, although most experts say that goal may take years to achieve.
The North didn’t say when the latest launches took place or how many missiles were fired, but they are likely the projectiles that Seoul says North Korea fired Thursday, as there have been no other such reported firings by North Korea in recent days.
South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said Friday that North Korea has been trying to upgrade its large-caliber multiple rocket launch systems in recent years and that those weapons’ range has been slightly and gradually increased in each test launch.
The North Korean media dispatch Friday called the latest missile launches “significant” since they were made at a time when it is bolstering its national defense because the US and South Korea are “going extremely reckless in the moves to isolate and stifle [North Korea] and unleash a war of aggression.”
Short-range test firings by North Korea aren’t unusual, but a barrage of missile and artillery tests earlier this year boosted tension between the rivals. A North Korean artillery attack in 2010 killed four South Koreans on a front-line Yellow Sea island.
North Korea has in recent months threatened South Korea’s president, Park Geun-hye, calling her names, and the South has vowed to hit North Korea hard if provoked. North Korea’s rising anger coincided with annual joint military exercises by the US and South Korea and a visit to Seoul by President Barack Obama. North Korea also test-fired two medium-range ballistic missiles and exchanged artillery fire with South Korea near a disputed boundary in the Yellow Sea.
On Thursday, North Korea’s army accused South Korea of firing shells into the North’s waters near the sea boundary.
And on Wednesday, Pyongyang condemned an upcoming Hollywood film starring actors James Franco and Seth Rogen — who play characters caught up in a plot to assassinate Kim Jong Un — as an â€œact of war.â€
The Korean Peninsula remains in a technical state of war because the 1950â€“53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea to deter potential aggression from North Korea.
North Korea Fires Two Missiles as Its Rivals Meet
Al Jazeera and The Associated Press
(March 25, 2014) — North Korea test-fired two medium-range ballistic missiles Wednesday, South Korea and the United States said. Pyongyangâ€™s defiant move came during a rare three-way summit of its rivals Seoul, Tokyo and Washington that focused on the security threat posed by the North.
The launch of the Rodong missiles — for the first time since 2009 â€“ is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions and marks a big escalation from a series of shorter-range rocket launches the North has conducted in recent weeks to protest continuing annual military drills by Washington and Seoul that the North claims are preparation for an invasion.
The missiles flew about 403 miles off North Korea’s east coast early Wednesday morning, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters. It was not immediately clear where the missiles splashed down. Kim said the missiles were likely fired from a mobile launcher.
State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf said the US is closely monitoring the development, “to take the appropriate measures” and â€œto address the threat to global security posed by the DPRKâ€™s (North Koreaâ€™s) nuclear and ballistic missile programs.â€ North Korea did not issue any maritime notifications warning, she said.
â€œComing on the heels of the DPRKâ€™s March 3 and February 27 Scud launches,” Harf said, Wednesday’s missile launches “represent a troubling and provocative escalation that the United States takes very seriously.â€ She said that â€œlaunches using ballistic missile technology are a clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.â€
The launches come on the fourth anniversary of the sinking of a South Korean warship that Seoul and other nations blame on a North Korean torpedo. Pyongyang has denied involvement in that attack, which killed 46 sailors.
The missile launches also pose a big challenge to what had been recently improving relations between Pyongyang and Seoul.
A year after threatening each other with war, the bitter rivals had restored some trust and held reunions of families divided by the Korean War of the early 1950s. The Korean Peninsula remains officially at war because that conflict ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.
North Korean state media made no immediate comment on the launches.
North Korea is thought to have a handful of rudimentary nuclear bombs, but most analysts do not believe Pyongyang has yet mastered the ability to build warheads small enough to mount on a missile that could threaten Tokyo and US military bases in Japan.
In attempt to achieve that goal, Pyongyang has conducted several long-range rocket tests in recent years and, a year ago, its third nuclear test. Talks aimed at ending the North’s nuclear program, meanwhile, have been stalled since 2009.
The most recent launches came as US President Barack Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye met Tuesday in the Netherlands to discuss North Korea’s security threat. It was Park and Abe’s first face-to-face meeting since they both took office more than a year ago. Many in Asia are angry over Japan’s treatment of historical issues related to World War II and Tokyo’s colonization of the Korean Peninsula in the first half of the 20th century.
A North Korean diplomat on Monday criticized the US for conducting military exercises near its borders, and accused Washington of undermining the prospect of improved relations with South Korea.
Analysts say the impoverished North chafes against the drills, which Washington and Seoul call routine and defensive in nature, because it has to spend precious resources responding with its own exercises. Last year, North Korea responded to international condemnation of its third nuclear test and the annual springtime US-South Korean military drills by threatening nuclear strikes on Washington and Seoul.
The North’s response to the military exercises this year had been more muted because of what analysts see as a desire by Pyongyang to use improving ties with Seoul to win badly-needed aid and outside investment.
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