May 20, 2013 09:18
North Korea launched four short-range missiles into the sea from an area near Wonsan, Kangwon Province on Saturday and Sunday. They were aimed away from South Korea in a northeasterly direction.
A South Korean government source on Sunday said they were probably either new KN-09 ground-to-ground missiles with a range of 160 km or new 300 mm or larger multiple rocket launchers with a guided system.
They flew for about 140 km.
The first two were launched between 8 and 11 a.m., a third between 2 and 3 p.m. on Saturday, and the fourth between 3 and 4 p.m. on Sunday.
White House National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said North Korea "will achieve nothing by threats or provocations" and only isolate itself further.
The KN-09 threatens both South Korean and U.S. armies, including U.S. bases in Pyeongtaek and Osan that are some 160 km from the demilitarized zone.
The guided multiple launchers are believed to improve on the Chinese WS-1B with a range of 180 km or WS-2 with a range of 200 km.
The launch came suddenly and without the usual fishing ban off the coast.
The South Korean military believes it was not a simple test-launch or firing drill but a warning to South Korea, perhaps in an attempt to gain leverage in any negotiations about the joint Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex, which has been closed.
Meanwhile, South Korea recently purchased Spike missiles from Israel and deployed them on the northwesternmost islands in the West Sea. They are meant to carry out precision strikes on North Korea's coastal artillery, military authorities said on Sunday.
The Spike missile has a range of about 20 km but is supposedly so accurate that it can hit a window-size target.
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