The Korea Herald

소아쌤

Seoul carefully watching NK missile activity amid reports of ‘unusual activities’

By Jung Min-kyung

Published : July 25, 2017 - 17:41

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South Korea’s military said Tuesday it is keeping an eye on North Korea’s missile activity, amid media reports suggesting the possibility of another missile test by the North in the coming days.  

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second from right, inspects the preparation of the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile in North Korea on July 4. (AP-Yonhap) North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second from right, inspects the preparation of the launch of a Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile in North Korea on July 4. (AP-Yonhap)

Citing an unnamed US defense official, CNN reported Tuesday that transporter vehicles containing ballistic missile test equipment were sighted arriving in Kusong on Friday. Kusong is a North Korean missile test site where a KN-17 intermediate range missile, a variant of a Scud-type missile, was fired into the East Sea in May.

Details regarding the type of missile were not mentioned in the article.

The US official claimed that such action is a sign a liftoff could occur within six days. There is also a high probability that July 27 will be the test date, since it holds significance as the 63rd anniversary of the Armistice Agreement that ended the 1950-53 Korean War, according to the official.

The update follows previous CNN and NHK reports last week about the “unusual deployment activity” of North Korea’s Romeo-class submarine monitored by US defense officials.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff vowed to keep an eye on possible provocations amid Pyongyang’s ongoing silence. The North’s lack of response was widely received here as an indirect refusal to Seoul’s offer to hold an inter-Korean military talk Friday.

“Our military is closely monitoring North Korea’s next possible move through South Korea-US’ joint operation surveillance assets against the possibility of North Korea’s various provocations,” an official at Seoul’s JCS said Tuesday.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry echoed the JCS’ statement, saying that they are fully aware of the foreign press reports and Seoul is prepared to counter “any provocations from the North including ballistic missiles,” ministry spokesman Cho June-hyuck said Tuesday.

Meanwhile, analysts are taking note of China’s recent moves to boost forces along its shared border with the hermit state.

The Wall Street Journal reported Monday that China has been “bolstering defenses along its 880-mile frontier with North Korea.” It suspects China’s recent realignment of its military forces, operation of 24-hour drones and new bunker establishments came amid heightened awareness for defense.

China also held drills with special forces, airborne troops and infantry units to prepare for a potential crisis across its border, including the possibility of a US military strike, said the WSJ.

On July 4, North Korea claimed via state media that it conducted a successful intercontinental ballistic missile test, which triggered multiple sanctions from the international community.

By Jung Min-kyung (mkjung@heraldcorp.com)