Friday, 5 April 2013

North Korea transports missiles to Sea of Japan as tensions mount on the Peninsula

North Korea is moving its mid-range ballistic missiles to its east coast, in a series of recent moves to demonstrate its combat readiness in connection with mounting tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

According to US and South Korean intelligence reports, the Musudan missiles are being transported towards the Sea of Japan.

A statement circulated by the Korean People’s Army says Pyongyang has given a ‘final approval’ for a nuclear strike and is ready to counter threats coming from the United States by ‘striking at them with contemporary nuclear weapons’.

Experts in Seoul say the re-deployment of North Korea’s Musudan missile is but a demonstration of strength ahead of the anniversary of the birth of the founder of North Korea, Kim Il-sung, celebrated on April 15th .
But the Pentagon is taking it seriously. Speaking at the National Defense University, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel said the current situation precludes any mistakes.
Musudan-class missiles have a range of about 3,000 kilometers. They can hit targets in South Korea and in neighboring Japan and are thought able to reach the island of Guam in the Pacific. Up to 50 such missiles were displayed during a military parade in Pyongyang in October 2010. Military experts say, however, that these missiles are raw and need testing.
Nevertheless, the US plans to deploy elements of the THAAD anti-ballistic missile defense system on Guam within the next two weeks. Washington has also sent two destroyers with missile defense systems to the South Korean coast and is moving back the chemical warfare battalion that was pulled out of South Korea in 2004.
 Meanwhile, Pyongyang has said it is withdrawing all 53,000 North Korean workers from the Kaesong joint industrial zone and has barred South Korean experts from entering the zone. US State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland says such a measure will only make things worse for the North.
Pyongyang is taking measures to restart the Yongbyon nuclear facility which was shut down in 2007 following disarmament talks between North Korea and the international community. The Yongbyon reactor, capable of producing weapon-grade plutonium, is due to be reactivated in several weeks, far earlier than planned. According to US data, the 8,000 fuel rods that are currently in storage at the facility are enough to produce eight nuclear warheads.

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