December 22, 2010 08:51
North Korea has had extra surface-to-ship and surface-to-air missiles ready near the western coast since early this week in response to a South Korean artillery drill on Yeonpyeong Island, which took place on Monday.
"The North has deployed more SA-2 surface-to-air missiles and Silkworm surface-to-ship missiles at Cape Deungsan on the western coast," in addition to multiple rocket launchers and coastal artillery, a South Korean government source said Tuesday. "It seemed ready to launch some of the surface-to-ship missiles, so our naval ships moved out of range."
The surface-to-ship missiles have a range of 83-95 km, while the Soviet-made SA-2 surface-to-air missile has a range of 30-40 km, which could pose a threat to South Korean fighter jets in operations over areas near the Northern Limit Line, the de facto maritime border.
Military authorities are closely watching the North Korean military's movements, since there are multiple rocket launchers in areas north of Baeknyeong and Ganghwa islands as well as in Kaemori near Yeonpyeong Island, and coastal artillery remains ready to fire.
The South Korean military remains on high alert as a giant steel Christmas tree on Aegibong Peak in Gimpo, Gyeonggi Province, only 3 km from North Korea, was switched back on Tuesday.
In a session of the National Assembly Defense Committee, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin pledged to "drastically strike back and annihilate positions they shoot from" if the North fires at the steel Christmas tree.
The military is also on the alert for possible provocations in the demilitarized zone, the Seoul metropolitan area and the East Sea, as well as on the five northernmost islands in the West Sea.
The First Navy Fleet is staging a maritime exercise in the East Sea for four days from Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the Army Missile Command, which is equipped with ballistic and cruise missiles with a range of 180-1,000 km, participated in the artillery drill on Yeonpyeong Island. It was ready to strike strategic targets in the North such as nuclear facilities if the situation escalated.
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