South Korea reports that North Korea launched three guided missiles from the country’s east coast on today, 18 May, 2013.
The South Korean Defence Ministry has confirmed that Pyongyang, the capital city of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea as it’s commonly referred to, initially fired two short range missiles in the morning, followed by one more in the afternoon.
The three missiles were launched into the the East Sea, northwest of South Korea.
Military officials in Seoul say that this appears to be a test-firing as part of the North’s military exercises. Tests of short-range missiles by North Korea are fairly routine. The last such tests were reported in March.
Although these missiles do not appear to be the highly-anticipated medium-range Musudan missiles North Korea had threatened to launch, the South Korean military is maintaining a high security and surveillance level. South Korea has been on alert since the North Korean capital started to make verbal threats.
Once the United Nations imposed its latest sanctions on the North Korean government and the tensions on the peninsula have started mounting. South Korea and the United States Military have been conducting joint military exercises in a combined show of force. The joint exercises have also increased tension in the area.
Military officials also added that intelligence forces of South Korea and the U.S. are jointly collecting more information by closely monitoring Pyongyang’s missile activities.
Han Da-eun, Arirang News.
Kim Min-seok, a ministry spokesman said that, “We remain vigilant and prepared in case the launching of these missiles might be followed by a military provocation by the North.”
Kim added, “According to observations, these are believed to be short-range projectiles, not long-range missiles. Our military has raised the surveillance level and is staying on high alert in case of additional missile launches and further provocations.”
Officials have been watching for North Korean missile tests since South Korea detected mobile launch vehicles deployed on the North’s east coast early last month. The vehicles were carrying intermediate-range missiles known as Musudan. These missiles have never been tested and are believed to be the closest that North Korea has to a missile capable of striking U.S. bases on the Pacific island of Guam, as Pyongyang has threatened to do.
It has been reported, though, that the missiles fired on Saturday did not include a Musudan, officials here said.
Earlier in the month, American officials said that North Korea had withdrawn the Musudan mobile launch vehicles. This statement triggered speculation that Pyongyang wanted to de-escalate tensions or that they were moving the missiles out of view from spy satellites.
Glyn T. Davies, Washington’s top envoy on North Korea, this week completed a trip to Seoul, Beijing and Tokyo, where he discussed how to deal with the North’s nuclear and missile threats.
A United Nations panel has said that, “While the imposition of sanctions has not halted these programs, “it has in all likelihood considerably delayed the (North’s) timetable, and through the imposition of financial sanctions and the bans on the trade in weapons, has choked off significant funding which would have been channeled into prohibited activities.”
It remains to be seen just how well the sanctions will work against the overly aggressive North Korean Capital.
By Michael Smith