Friday, May 22, 2009

North Korea Moves to Test-Fire Missiles

from The Korea Times
by Kim Jong-chan
Assistant Managing Editor

North Korea is showing signs of preparing to test-fire short-range missiles, a defense ministry official said Friday.

The North began to relocate missile-related equipment and vehicles on its east coast, and banned ships from nearby waters, the official said on condition of anonymity.

``We've been seeing brisk activities along the North's east coastal area over the past two to three days, indicating trucks mounted with mobile rocket launchers are on the move,'' the official was quoted as saying by Yonhap News Agency.

``Judging from an analysis of military movements, the North appears to be preparing to test-launch short-range missiles,'' he said.

An official at South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that a shipping ban usually comes ahead of a short-range missile test or a live-fire drill.

According to the Japanese Coast Guard, North Korea advised ships to stay clear of waters within a 130-km radius of the northeastern city of Gimchaek until the end of this month, Yonhap said.

The ban, effective from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., follows Pyongyang's threats to conduct further missile tests to protest the U.N. Security Council condemnation of its April 5 rocket launch.

North Korea has said that the launch from its east coast put a satellite into orbit, while the U.S. and Japan say no object entered space.

Pyongyang has also threatened to conduct a second nuclear test ― it first tested a nuclear device in October 2006.
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