April 5, 2013

North Korea moves missile to east coast

But the missile is not capable of reaching the United States and it doesn't appear Kim Jong Un is preparing for war, South Korea says.

The Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea — After a series of escalating threats, North Korea has moved a missile with "considerable range" to its east coast, South Korea's defense minister said Thursday. But he emphasized that the missile was not capable of reaching the United States and that there are no signs that the North is preparing for a full-scale conflict.

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In an April 2012 photo, a North Korean vehicle carries what appears to be a new missile in a military parade in Pyongyang. North Korea has moved a missile with "considerable range" to its east coast, South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said Thursday, but he added there are no signs Pyongyang is preparing for a full-scale conflict. The report came hours after North Korea's military warned that it has been authorized to attack the U.S. using "smaller, lighter and diversified" nuclear weapons.

The Associated Press

Related headlines

HACKERS GO ON OFFENSIVE AGAINST NORTH KOREAN SITES

SEOUL, South Korea — Hackers apparently broke into at least two of North Korea’s government-run online sites Thursday, as tensions rose on the Korean Peninsula.

The North’s Uriminzokkiri Twitter and Flickr accounts stopped sending out content typical of that posted by the regime in Pyongyang, such as photos of North’s leader Kim Jong Un meeting with military officials.

Instead, a picture posted Thursday on the North’s Flickr site shows Kim’s face with a pig-like snout and a drawing of Mickey Mouse on his chest. Underneath, the text reads: “Threatening world peace with ICBMs and Nuclear weapons/Wasting money while his people starve to death.”

Another posting says “We are Anonymous” in white letters against a black background. Anonymous is a name of a hacker activist group. A statement purporting to come from the attackers and widely circulated online said that they had compromised 15,000 user records hosted on Uriminzokkiri.com and other websites. The authenticity of the statement couldn’t be confirmed, but the North’s official website did not open Thursday.

Tweets on the North’s Twitter account said “Hacked” followed by a link to North Korea-related websites. One tweet said “Tango Down” followed by a link to the North’s Flickr page.

North Korea opened its Twitter account in 2010. It has more than 13,000 followers. The North uses the social media to praise its system and leaders and also to repeat commentaries sent out by North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

– The Associated Press
 

North Korea has been railing against U.S.-South Korean military exercises that began in March and are to continue until the end of this month. The allies insist the exercises in South Korea are routine, but the North calls them rehearsals for an invasion and says it needs nuclear weapons to defend itself. The North has also expressed anger over tightened U.N. sanctions for its February nuclear test.

Analysts say the ominous warnings in recent weeks are probably efforts to provoke softer policies from South Korea, to win diplomatic talks with Washington and solidify the image of young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Many of the threats come in the middle of the night in Asia — daytime for the U.S. audience.

The report of the movement of the missile came hours after North Korea's military warned that it has been authorized to attack the U.S. using "smaller, lighter and diversified" nuclear weapons. The reference to smaller weapons could be a claim that North Korea has improved its nuclear technology, or a bluff.

The North is not believed to have mastered the technology needed to miniaturize nuclear bombs enough to mount them on long-range missiles. Nor has it demonstrated that those missiles, if it has them at all, are accurate. It also could be years before the country completes the laborious process of creating enough weaponized fuel to back up its nuclear threats.

South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said he did not know the reasons behind the North's missile movement, and that it "could be for testing or drills."

He dismissed reports in Japanese media that the missile could be a KN-08, which is believed to be a long-range missile that if operable could hit the United States.

Kim told lawmakers at a parliamentary committee meeting that the missile has "considerable range" but not enough to hit the U.S. mainland.

The range he described could refer to a mobile North Korean missile known as the Musudan, believed to have a range of 3,000 kilometers (1,800 miles). That would make Japan and South Korea potential targets — along with U.S. bases in both countries — but there are doubts about the missile's accuracy.

The Pentagon announced that it will hasten the deployment of a missile defense system to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam to strengthen regional protection against a possible attack.

Experts say North Korea has not shown that it has accurate long-range missiles. Some suspect that an apparent long-range missile unveiled by the North at a parade last year was actually a mockup.

"From what we know of its existing inventory, North Korea has short- and medium-range missiles that could complicate a situation on the Korean Peninsula (and perhaps reach Japan), but we have not seen any evidence that it has long-range missiles that could strike the continental U.S., Guam or Hawaii," James Hardy, Asia Pacific editor of IHS Jane's Defence Weekly, wrote in a recent analysis.

Kim, the South Korean defense minister, said that if North Korea were preparing for a full-scale conflict, there would be signs such as the mobilization of a number of units, including supply and rear troops, but South Korean military officials have found no such preparations.

(Continued on page 2)

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Today's poll: North Korean threats

Do you think North Korea's threats are credible?

Yes

No

View Results