N.Korea Deployed Missiles, Boosted Special Forces

    February 24, 2009 07:26

    North Korea's new medium-range missiles, said to be an improved version of the old Soviet SS-N-6 submarine-launched ballistic missiles
    North Korea in 2007 deployed ballistic missiles with a range of more than 3,000 km capable of reaching U.S. key strategic base Guam and has increased the number of special forces from 120,000 to 180,000.

    The Defense Ministry's 2008 white paper published Monday reveals changes in the North Korean military's war capabilities over the past two years. The new medium-range missiles are an improved version of the old Soviet SS-N-6 submarine-launched ballistic missiles and can be transported by truck. Measuring some 12 m by 1.5 m, they are shorter than the Rodong missile (15 m long) or the Taepodong-1 missile (23 m), but have a longer range.

    The longest-range North Korean missile deployed war-ready until recently was the Rodong with a range of 1,300 km that can reach Japan. Experts say that the North has drastically improved its attack capabilities against U.S. strategic bases by deploying the new mid-range missiles, which can reach Guam as well as Okinawa where a large U.S. military base is located. The North is also reportedly deploying new short-range surface-to-surface KN-02 missiles with a range of 160 km.

    The white paper also said North Korea increased the number of special forces by about 60,000 and stepped up their nighttime, mountain and street-fighting exercises.

    As for the North's nuclear capabilities, the white paper said, "We presume that North Korea has extracted about 40 kg of plutonium by three reprocessing methods. It already conducted a nuclear test in October 2006." The amount would make six to seven nuclear weapons.

    Despite economic difficulties, North Korea has been boosting its war readiness by stockpiling two to three months worth of oil and ammunition, the document adds.

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