News / Asia

South Korea Expects North's Missile Test by Monday

South Korean soldiers look at North Korea through binoculars from Dora Observation Post near the border village of Panmunjom, April 10, 2013.
South Korean soldiers look at North Korea through binoculars from Dora Observation Post near the border village of Panmunjom, April 10, 2013.
VOA News
U.S. and South Korean forces remain on heightened alert for a North Korean missile test that officials say could take place at any time.

Seoul's defense ministry on Thursday said it is at a "full readiness posture" as it monitors the North for possible launches. A spokesperson said the South believes the test could take place on or before the Monday birthday of North Korea's late founding leader, Kim Il Sung.

But the defense ministry refused to comment on a report by Japan's Kyodo news agency, which on Thursday quoted an unnamed Tokyo defense official as saying Pyongyang has placed a missile launcher in a raised position in apparent preparation for a test.

Joint U.S.-South Korean forces have already raised their alert level to "WatchCon 2," indicating a vital threat is present. At the Pentagon, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Pyongyang against making more threats.

At the Pentagon, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned Pyongyang against making more threats. "North Korea has been, with its bellicose rhetoric, with its action, has been skating very close to a dangerous line. Their actions and words have not helped defuse a combustible situation,'' Hagel said.

South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-Se told lawmakers Wednesday it is "highly likely" North Korea will test one of its new missiles "at any time."

"We believe that the missile will be a Musudan, which is a new form of mid-range missile with a range of 3,500 kilometers. How far it will travel depends on North Korea's will," Byung-Se said.

Lines of Communication

Meanwhile, diplomats are scrambling to maintain possible lines of communication with Pyongyang and ease tensions.

The European Union Wednesday told North Korea it would not pull its diplomats despite North Korea's warning that it could not guarantee their safety after April 10.

During talks in London with U.S. Secretory of State John Kerry, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov sought to present a united front.

"On North Korea, we have no differences with the United States. You should not scare anyone with military maneuvers. And then there's a chance everything can calm down," Lavrov said.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei also urged restraint.

"Under present circumstances, all sides should stay calm and restrained, not provoke each other, strive to alleviate the tension, bear in mind the regional peace and stability, work towards the resumption of the six-party talks, strengthen contact and dialogue, strive for denuclearization to achieve a long-term security and stability in Northeast Asia," Lei said.

North Korea is reported to be in the final stages of preparing for a mid-range Musudan missile test.  The previously untested missile could potentially reach South Korea, Japan, or the U.S. territory of Guam.   Unconfirmed reports also suggest Pyongyang is preparing to test other missiles simultaneously.

Some analysts expect the test to occur sometime around the Monday birthday of Pyongyang's founding leader, Kim Il Sung.

The commander of the U.S. forces in the Pacific confirmed North Korea has moved a Musudan to its east coast in apparent preparation for a launch. Testifying Tuesday at a U.S. Senate hearing, Admiral Samuel Locklear insisted that any North Korean missile could be intercepted if it poses a direct threat to the U.S. or its allies.

Warnings to Foreigners

North Korea state television has been urging foreigners to leave South Korea, warning they could be caught up in an all-out military conflict or a "nuclear war."  

South Korea Unification Ministry spokesperson Kim Hyung-suk on Wednesday played down the threat to foreigners.

"Various actions from the North are very likely to be psychological, creating anxiety. I will say that we should not be paying too much attention or feeling anxious," Hyung-suk said.

North Korea has threatened to attack the South, the United States and U.S. allies in the Asia-Pacific region in retaliation for the latest economic sanctions imposed on Pyongyang by the U.N. Security Council. Those sanctions have been aimed at punishing Pyongyang for carrying out nuclear and missile tests in defiance of Security Council resolutions.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Robert Ezergailis from: Canada
April 11, 2013 12:09 PM
What intensifies the level of risk can be readily ascertained from a summary review of known DPRK military assets. The DPRK definitely knows they are in a "use it or lose it" position, due to the age of their technology and much of the actual weaponry in their possession. This definitely leads to intense pressure from the DPRK military on the political leadership of the nation to do something. Defeat by obsolescence and deterioration is not likely an option that the DPRK military leadership is willing to countenance. Not when considering the totality of circumstances the DPRK has endured and is enduring, taken in context of their ideology and history.

They are very, very, close to the point where they would end up being defeated by deterioration of a large part of their existing known stockpile. Though that does not take into account what we do not know or are uncertain of, concerning DPRK military assets, it raises the levels of concern and also points to relatively few military strategies, as to using what they have available, to maximum effect. We must assume their military leadership is very astute and aware in that regard. Pushed to the economic and ideological wall, as the DPRK has been and is, there is a very high probability that they feel very hard pressed to take extreme decisive action.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid