Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

North Korea moves missile to east coast

No chance of hitting U.S.: South Korea

  • Print

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 defence minister said Thursday. But he emphasized the missile was not capable of reaching the United States and there are no signs the North is preparing for a full-scale conflict.

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 UN 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 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 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 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 Defence 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 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 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 kilometres. 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 it will hasten the deployment of a missile defence system to the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam to strengthen regional protection against a possible attack.

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

"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 defence minister, said 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.

"(North Korea's recent threats) are rhetorical threats. I believe the odds of a full-scale provocation are small," he said. But he added North Korea might mount a small-scale provocation such as its 2010 shelling of a South Korean island, an attack that killed four people.

At times, North Korea has gone beyond rhetoric.On Tuesday, it announced it would restart a plutonium reactor it had shut down in 2007. A U.S. research institute said Wednesday satellite imagery shows construction needed for the restart has already begun.

For a second day Thursday, North Korean border authorities denied entry to South Koreans who manage jointly run factories in the North Korean city of Kaesong. South Koreans already at the plant were being allowed to return home.

-- The Associated Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 5, 2013 A15

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Rumor's 30th Anniversary with Mike Wilmot, Darryl Lenox, Dave Hemstad & Derek Edwards

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • A young gosling prepares to eat dandelions on King Edward St Thursday morning-See Bryksa 30 Day goose challenge- Day 17- bonus - May 24, 2012   (JOE BRYKSA / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS)
  • JOE BRYKSA/WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Local- A large osprey lands in it's nest in a hydro pole on Hyw 59  near the Hillside Beach turnoff turn off. Osprey a large narrow winged hawk which can have a wingspan of over 54 inches are making a incredible recovery since pesticide use of the 1950's and  1960's- For the last two decades these fish hawks have been reappearing in the Lake Winnipeg area- Aug 03, 2005

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

How much does the premier's apology mean to you?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google