News / Asia

US Braces for North Korean Missile Launch

A U.S. Army helicopter prepares to land after a ceremony givng notice of the official return of the U.S. Army's 23rd chemical battalion to South Korea, Uijeongbu, April 4, 2013.
A U.S. Army helicopter prepares to land after a ceremony givng notice of the official return of the U.S. Army's 23rd chemical battalion to South Korea, Uijeongbu, April 4, 2013.
VOA News
The United States expects North Korea will launch one of its missiles in the coming days.

Defense Department officials told VOA they have been preparing for the possibility of a North Korean missile launch and are taking Pyongyang's threats seriously.

North Korea said Thursday that its military has been given final approval for a nuclear attack against the United States - a threat that most analysts think Pyongyang would be unable to carry out.

Related video report by Luis Ramirez:

Pentagon Readies North Korea Optionsi
April 04, 2013 10:28 PM
As North Korea ratchets up its threats against the United States and its allies, the Pentagon is lining up its options in case Pyongyang decides to attack. VOA Pentagon correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.

South Korea said it has confirmed the North has moved one of its missiles to the country's east coast, and Defense Minister Kim Kwan-Jin said while the missile appears to have "considerable range," it is unlikely it could reach the U.S. mainland.
"Looking at the missile's range, it doesn't look like it will be able to reach the American continent," he said.

Tensions Rising on Korean Peninsula

  • February 12: North Korea carries out third nuclear test
  • March 27: North Korea cuts military hotline with South Korea
  • March 28: U.S. B-2 bombers fly over Korean peninsula
  • March 30: North Korea says it has entered a "state of war" with South Korea
  • April 3: North Korea blocks South Korean workers from Kaesong
  • April 4: North Korea moves a missile to its east coast
  • April 9: North Korea urges foreigners to leave the South.  The U.S. and South Korea raise alert level
  • April 14: US Secretary of State John Kerry offers talks with Pyongyang if it moves to scrap nuclear weapons
  • April 16: North Korea issues threats after anti-Pyongyang protests in Seoul
  • April 29: North Korea holds back seven South Koreans at Kaesong
  • April 30: North Korea sentences American to 15 years hard labor for hostile acts
  • May 20: North Korea fires projectiles for a consecutive third day
  • May 24: North Korean envoy wraps up China visit for talks on Korean tensions
  • June 7: South Korea accepts Pyongyang's offer of talks on Kaesong and other issues
South Korea's semi-official news agency quotes officials in Seoul as saying the missile is likely the Musudan (also known as the BM-25), a ground-launched rocket 12-19 meters long that can carry a conventional 1,200-kilogram bomb. It could potentially carry a nuclear warhead, but security analysts think that, too, is beyond North Korea's current capabilities.

The Musudan has a range of about 3,000 kilometers - far enough to hit South Korea or Japan.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the Pentagon is treating the threats seriously. On Wednesday, a Pentagon official said the United States will soon deploy an advanced missile defense system to the island of Guam, a U.S. Pacific territory, as a precautionary move.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said Thursday North Korea's most recent threats did not come as a surprise.

"This is just the latest in a long line of aggresive statements," she said. "These are only going to serve to further isolate the DPRK and make it harder for the international communiyt to work with them. But they have a different choice. They have a different choice and they're not choosing to take it."

Pyongyang, which is angry about recent United Nations sanctions against its nuclear program, has issued near-daily threats against Seoul and Washington, as well as Japan.

North Korean state-run television Thursday showed more mass rallies against the U.S. 

Japan's chief cabinet secretary said Japan is in close cooperation with Washington and Seoul.

Related video report by Zlatica Hoke
World Reacts to North Korea's Nuclear Attack Threatsi
April 05, 2013 1:23 AM
North Korea's threats to attack U.S. targets with nuclear weapons have raised concerns worldwide. Diplomatic efforts are under way to defuse the tensions, but the United States says it has strengthened its missile defense against any North Korean attack. Zlatica Hoke reports.
He said, "Japan will not be pushed around by North Korea's provocations and will continue to work together with relating countries to comply with U.N. Security Council resolutions. We strongly urge North Korea that it's not in their interests to take further provocative actions."  

Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich urged North Korea to tone down the rhetoric and return to diplomacy.

He said, "This radically complicates, if it doesn't in practice shut off, the prospects for resuming six-party talks to resolve the nuclear issue on the Korean peninsula."

Also Thursday the future of a joint industrial complex between North and South Korea remained in question, as Pyongyang blocked South Korean workers from entering the center for a second day.

In Seoul, VOA's Steve Herman said more than 600 South Koreans spent the night at the Kaesong industrial complex, after about 200 returned home Thursday. Six Chinese nationals are also stranded there.

The Kaesong industrial zone, about 10 kilometers inside North Korea, is an important source of income for cash-strapped Pyongyang.

North Korea has responded furiously to tough U.N. sanctions meant to punish Pyongyang for its third nuclear test in February and its satellite launch in December. It is also upset at ongoing annual U.S.-South Korea military drills.

Related slide show

  • South Korean soldiers patrol along a barbed-wire fence, near the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul, April 5, 2013.
  • A couple looks at a map showing the demilitarized zone that separates the two Koreas, at the Imjingak pavilion in Paju, north of Seoul, April 5, 2013.
  • U.S. Army Patriot missile air defence artillery batteries are seen at U.S. Osan air base in Osan, south of Seoul, April 5, 2013.
  • South Korean soldiers take part in military training near the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, north of Seoul, April 4, 2013.
  • U.S. soldiers wear gas masks while attending a demonstration of their equipment during a ceremony to recognize the battalion's official return to the 2nd Infantry Division based in South Korea at Camp Stanley in Uijeongbu, north of Seoul, April 4, 2013.
  • South Korean vehicles turn back after being refused entry to Kaesong, North Korea, April 3, 2013.
  • Anti-war protesters raise signs during a rally denouncing the joint military drills between the South Korea and the United States near the U.S. Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, April 3, 2013.
  • North Koreans attend a rally against the United States and South Korea in Nampo, North Korea, April 3, 2013.
  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presides over a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in Pyongyang March 31, 2013 in this picture released by the North's official KCNA news agency.

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This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
by: M Lewis Hughes from: USA
April 05, 2013 2:21 PM
Hey, just send Dennis Rodman back there. If he doesn't get his besty Kim Jong Un to back off he has to stay until he does.
In Response

by: rider from: Thin Air
April 05, 2013 3:25 PM
Just send Chuck Norris.

by: Observer from: Southeastasia
April 05, 2013 11:47 AM
This young "leader" has been left out in the cold by world leaders, so he is doing a cheap drama to get their attention. He wants his name to be mentioned repeatedly in the world news of the world media as one of the strong men in the world. The wisest strategy is leave him alone to freeze in his own barbaric world.

by: bob from: Europe
April 05, 2013 6:42 AM
America Bullies best when its homeland is out of range.

by: Anonymous
April 04, 2013 9:14 PM
Wow, this report has no new information and a completely misleading title. Stop trying to force it.

by: mike from: USA
April 04, 2013 8:08 PM
Well I doubt North Korea would do anything because doing so would mean "the complete, utter and irrevocable annihilation of the attacker", kind of like why the USSR towards the end of the Soviet days knew they couldnt use nuclear weapons against the US and vice versa; mutual assured destruction except this time, just the attacker would suffer the most.

Whats more interesting to discuss is whether or not both Russia and China would temporarily join in on the push against North Korea by the US/Korea/Japan and more than likely, NATO.

by: Daniel from: Jersey (Britain)
April 04, 2013 6:40 PM
What a terrible headline. Scaremongering your citizens to the extreme.

by: Mark from: D.C.
April 04, 2013 2:52 PM
I would hope that V.O.A. would do a better job on its facts. On March 19, 2013, the U.S. sent B-52 bombers, not B-2 stealth bombers, over the Korean peninsula.
In Response

by: Anonymous
April 04, 2013 10:41 PM
The US sent both B-52 and B-2 long range bombers as a show of force two separate times.
In Response

by: Jerry from: NY
April 04, 2013 10:18 PM
U.S. still makes the B-52 bomber. It's just a more modern version of the original.
In Response

by: Anonymous
April 04, 2013 9:54 PM
B52s are still in service and more advanced than ever, with jet engines, search on youtube to see cool videos.

I could of sworn I seen reports of both b52s and B-2's being sent over that direction.
In Response

by: chris from: Oz
April 04, 2013 7:26 PM
Not sure you know what your talking about B52? what is this 1945?

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