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Report: North Korean missile launch coming within days

By ERIK SLAVIN | STARS AND STRIPES Published: November 2, 2016

South Korean officials say they are closely observing North Korean military maneuvers, following a news report that the North may launch another ballistic missile within days.

The Unification and Defense ministries could not confirm a Fox Business Network report of a pending intermediate-range missile launch, which cited two unidentified U.S. officials, due to policy over releasing classified intelligence.

“I could say the government is fully prepared for possible various kinds of North Korean provocations and has been paying sharp attention to relevant movements,” a Unification Ministry spokesman told reporters Wednesday.

A North Korean missile launch would be first since Oct. 20, when U.S. and South Korean officials reported a failed Musudan intermediate-range missile test.

Musudan missiles are fired off mobile platforms and are suspected to have a range of 1,500-2,500 miles — enough to threaten U.S. bases in Japan and Guam, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington.

A Defense Ministry official told Stars and Stripes on Wednesday that “our military is closely watching and tracing movements related to North Korea’s missile launches.”

North Korea has repeatedly tested ballistic missiles and continued work on nuclear warheads this year, despite U.N. sanctions barring them from developing their nuclear program.

Also on Tuesday, Joseph Yun, the State Department’s special representative on North Korea policy, met in Seoul with Kim Hong-kyun, a Foreign Ministry representative on peace and security affairs.

The two discussed a new U.N. Security Council resolution aimed at North Korea, according to a statement. They also agreed to try and persuade mutual allies to adopt their own unilateral sanctions aimed at Pyongyang.

Each side ruled out talks with Pyongyang, which has in the past agreed to halt its nuclear program in exchange for aid — only to restart it again later.

“With North Korea failing to demonstrate any willingness at all to come forward for denuclearization talks, calls for a dialogue with no clear purpose will not be conducive to the resolution of the North Korean nuclear issue,” according to the statement.

Stars and Stripes reporter Yoo Kyong Chang contributed to this report.

slavin.erik@stripes.com
Twitter: @eslavin_stripes

A suspected Musudan missile is launched in this undated photo from the Korean Central New Agency.
COURTESY OF KCNA

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