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U.S., S. Korea Troops on High Alert Amid Threats... [Copy link] 中文

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Post time 2009-5-28 20:09:21 |Display all floors
U.S., S. Korea Troops on High Alert Amid Threats

Wednesday, May 27, 2009  

SEOUL, South Korea ? South Korean and U.S. troops facing North Korea boosted their alert level Thursday to the highest category since 2006, after the communist regime threatened military strikes on allied troops in escalating tensions over its nuclear test.

North Korea threatened Wednesday to attack any U.S. and South Korean ships that try to intercept its vessels and renounced a 1953 truce halting the Korean War fighting, raising the prospect of a naval clash off the Korean peninsula's west coast.

The North was responding to Seoul's decision to join a U.S.-led anti-proliferation program aimed at stopping and inspecting ships suspected of transporting banned weapons, including nuclear technology. South Korea announced it was joining after the North's underground test blast of a nuclear bomb.

On Thursday, the South Korea-U.S. combined forces command increased the surveillance to level 2 from the present level 3, Defense Ministry spokesman Won Tae-jae said. He said that was the highest level

since 2006, when the North conducted its first-ever nuclear test.

?U.S. Takes Skeptical Look at North Korean 'Bluster'

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,522419,00.html

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Post time 2009-5-30 03:43:19 |Display all floors

They keep poking the fire........

U.S. Says North Korea May Plan Long-Range Missile Test
The North fired a short-range missile on Friday -- the sixth this week -- and officials say there are indications of increased activity at a site used to fire long-range missiles.

AP

Friday, May 29, 2009

U.S. officials say there are new signs North Korea may be planning even more missile launches in a show of strength following worldwide condemnation of its underground nuclear test.

The North fired a short-range missile on Friday -- the sixth this week.

Perhaps more significantly, officials say there are indications of increased activity at a site used to fire long-range missiles.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because methods of gathering information about North Korea are sensitive. The officials also say an initial U.S. air sampling from near the underground test site was inconclusive.

Officials say that first test doesn't prove the North successfully completed an atomic reaction. At least one more test is coming.

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Post time 2009-5-31 02:51:17 |Display all floors
Officials: New Signs of North Korea Missile Preparations

AP
Saturday, May 30, 2009  

YEONPYEONG, South Korea ? Spy satellites have spotted signs that North Korea may be preparing to transport another long-range missile to a test launch site, South Korean officials said Saturday, as the U.S. defense secretary issued his harshest warning to the North since its recent nuclear test.

"We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in Asia ?or on us," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told a regional defense meeting in Singapore.

He said the North's nuclear program was a "harbinger of a dark future," but wasn't yet a direct threat.

Since last Monday's nuclear blast, North Korea has test-launched six short-range missiles in a show of force and announced it won't honor the 1953 truce that ended the fighting in the Korean War.

Now, the reclusive communist state appears to be preparing to move a long-range missile by train from a weapons factory near Pyongyang to its northeastern Musudan-ni launch pad, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said.

Images of the movements were captured by U.S. satellites, said the official, who was not allowed to be identified when discussing intelligence matters.

The threat of a long-range missile test comes amid heightened tensions over North Korea's nuclear program.

North Korea, believed to have enough weaponized plutonium for at least six nuclear bombs, walked away from international disarmament negotiations in April in anger over U.N. criticism of a rocket launch Washington and others called a cover for the test of long-range missile technology.

Experts say Pyongyang is working toward mounting a nuclear bomb on a long-range missile, one capable of reaching the U.S.

Gates and the defense ministers of Japan and South Korea said North Korea must not be allowed to continue playing a dangerous game of brinksmanship in hopes of winning aid.

"We must make North Korea clearly recognize that it will not be rewarded for its wrong behaviors," South Korea's Lee Sang-hee said.

Gates said Pyongyang was engaging in familiar tactics. "They create a crisis and the rest of us pay the price to return to the status quo ante."

Preparations for a long-range missile test would take at least two weeks, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unidentified intelligence official.

Officials in Washington said they noticed increased activity at the test site. They spoke on condition of anonymity Friday, saying methods of gathering information about North Korea are sensitive.

Yonhap said the size of the missile was similar to a long-range rocket the North tested in April.

Experts have said the new three-stage rocket has a potential range of more than 4,100 miles (6,700 kilometers), putting Alaska within its striking distance.

The North is likely to fire the missile shortly after the U.N. Security Council adopts a resolution criticizing its recent nuclear test, said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at Seoul's University of North Korean Studies.

A partial draft resolution ?obtained Friday by The Associated Press ?calls on all countries to immediately enforce sanctions imposed by an earlier U.N. resolution after the North's first nuclear test in 2006.

The sanctions include a partial arms embargo, a ban on luxury goods and ship searches for illegal weapons or material. They have been sporadically implemented, with many of the 192 U.N. member states ignoring them.

The draft would also have the Security Council condemn "in the strongest terms" the recent nuclear test "in flagrant violation and disregard" of the 2006 resolution.

China, wary of instability in the North, has resisted taking strong action and has avoided enforcing past sanctions.

But a Chinese military official was unusually outspoken Saturday in his criticism of the atomic blast.

"As a close neighbor of North Korea, China has expressed a firm opposition and grave concern about the nuclear test," Chinese Lt. Gen. Ma Xiaotian said at the Singapore defense meeting.

North Korea says it conducted the nuclear test in self-defense. Its main Rodong Sinmun newspaper warned Saturday the North "will deal decisive and merciless blows at the enemies who desperately run amok to dare pre-empt an attack on it," according to the official Korean Central News Agency.

Despite the rising tensions, the atmosphere was calm Saturday at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the heavily armed Demilitarized Zone dividing the two Koreas. The area is jointly administered by the U.S.-led United Nations Command and North Korea to supervise the cease-fire.

Some analysts say one of the aims of the North's nuclear and missile tests is to strengthen the regime and boost morale in the impoverished nation.

Rallies were held nationwide to celebrate the "historic" nuclear test, KCNA said, with speakers offering their "ardent congratulations" to scientists and engineers for bolstering the country's dignity.

"They stressed that the successful nuclear test greatly encouraged the Korean people in their dynamic drive for effecting a new great revolutionary surge and dealt telling blows at the U.S. imperialists and their followers keen to stifle" North Korea, KCNA said.

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Post time 2009-5-31 04:47:11 |Display all floors

Border calm as tensions rise on Korean peninsula

Border calm as tensions rise on Korean peninsula

AP
May 30, 11:35 AM EDT

PANMUNJOM, Korea (AP) -- The thin North Korean guard shuffles around in his dull green uniform, a pair of binoculars fixed to his eyes, while a squad of South Koreans in black helmets glare back silently from their positions across the border.

For more than a half century, this divided hamlet has been the front-line of a fragile truce that ended the three-year Korean War. Intimidation has been honed to a fine art here. But while tensions this week rose to their highest level in years, there was an odd sense of calm in the Demilitarized Zone.

Skirmishes have a tendency to escalate quickly in Panmunjom.

An effort by American soldiers to trim a poplar tree led to an ax fight with North Koreans in 1976 that left two dead. An attempt by a Russian to defect across the demarkation line in the 1980s sparked an extended shootout.

But no incidents have been reported here recently, despite North Korea's nuclear test, a week of missile launchings and repeated tirades from Pyongyang that it will no longer abide by the 1953 accord that ended the war.

"We are always at a high level of readiness, but nothing has changed recently," said U.S. Army Sgt. Brant Walker, part of the small contingent of U.S. troops that are based along the heavily fortified border. "You wouldn't think it would be, with North Korea right there, but it's very relaxed."

Outside of the Demilitarized Zone, however, concerns swirled around the North as spy satellites spotted signs that it may be preparing to transport a long-range missile to a test launch site, South Korean officials said Saturday.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued his harshest warning to the North since it carried out an underground nuclear test on Monday.

"We will not stand idly by as North Korea builds the capability to wreak destruction on any target in Asia - or on us," he told a regional defense meeting in Singapore. He said the North's nuclear program was a "harbinger of a dark future," but wasn't yet a direct threat.

North Korea's neighbors have reason to be anxious.

North Korea has 1.2 million troops, and as many as 80,000 commandos trained to infiltrate the South. In April, it launched a rocket that experts say indicates it has the capability of hitting Japan or possibly the United States with conventional warheads. And it has now demonstrated twice that it can detonate a nuclear device.

Memories of the Korean War are also frightening.

At the outset of the war, which began 59 years ago next month, North Korean armor rolled across the border, catching the South by surprise. An emergency U.S. defense effort initially crumbled, and the North's forces almost succeeded in pushing the Americans off the tip of the peninsula.

This time, concerns are focused on a clash at sea.

The North has threatened to retaliate with its military if any of its ships are stopped and searched for banned weapons. Deadly naval skirmishes occurred in 1999 and 2002 off disputed shores along Korea's western coast.

But despite all of its bluster, some experts say Pyongyang is playing a calculated game and is aware of the danger to the survival of its own leadership if it goes too far and provokes a full-on response from the much-stronger militaries that surround it.

"The North won't start a game that it knows it will lose," said Baek Seung-joo, a North Korea expert at Seoul's state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.

He and other experts said North Korea is using the nuclear test to get the international community's attention and to milk for its domestic propaganda value, instilling its populace with pride in their country's military might.

North Korea has said it does not fear sanctions, which are being mulled by the U.N. Security Council, and is so isolated already that it is used to fending for itself, although the cost has been deep poverty.

Provoking a war, however, would involve a different calculus.

"North Korea is so impoverished it has not been able to renew arms that are outdated and degraded," said Atsuhito Isozaki, a North Korean expert at Japan's private Keio University. "Its conventional military is no match for those of Japan, South Korea or the U.S."

Isozaki said the North's shortage of oil has largely incapacitated its conventional military, which he said poses "virtually no threat" to neighboring countries although it is the world's fourth-largest.

If the North were to unleash its military, it would face a much stronger set of opponents than it did in 1950.

South Korea, where military service is mandatory, has roughly 670,000 in its armed forces. The United States has 28,000 troops in Korea, and another 50,000 in Japan.

U.S. fighters can reach North Korean airspace from their Japanese bases in about 30 minutes, and two U.S. navy destroyers are "tethered" to the North, meaning they are either in the Sea of Japan or on call to be there quickly if needed.

The United States also now has a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier permanently based in Japan, and has a squadron of F-22 stealth jets - the most advanced in the Air Force - deployed to the southern island of Okinawa.

Still, North Korea continues to pour what little resources it has on its own troops, described by the authoritative Web site GlobalSecurity.org as "North Korea's largest employer, purchaser, and consumer, the central unifying structure in the country, and the source of power for the regime."

Analysts trying to read Pyongyang's motives believe leader Kim Jong Il may be using the recent show of military brinksmanship as a means of asserting his strength and smoothing the way for a transfer of power to one of his sons, continuing the dynasty that he inherited from his father.

If that is the case, he does not want too much upheaval.

"Going to a war is a political decision," said Cha Du-hyeogn, another researcher at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses. "In my opinion, the North may only stage limited provocation. It's very difficult for the country to choose to go to war in the current situation."

Cha noted that Kim also is aware that China and Russia - crucial backers in the Korean War - would not assist his army in the event of a new war on the peninsula.

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Post time 2009-5-31 07:15:49 |Display all floors
Pentagon Official: U.S. Could Shoot Down North Korean Missiles

FOX News
Saturday, May 30, 2009  

May 29 (Bloomberg) -- U.S. ground-based interceptor rockets would 搇ikely?knock out a long-range North Korean missile before it could reach the American mainland, the Pentagon抯 independent testing official said today.

揑 believe we have a reasonable chance?of an intercept, Charles McQueary, director of operational test and evaluation, said in an interview as North Korea defied international condemnation of a nuclear test with another short-range missile launch.

揑抎 put it 憀ikely?-- than 慼ighly likely?-- as opposed to putting it 憉nlikely,?he said on his last day in office after almost three years as the top weapons evaluator for the Defense Department.

McQueary抯 office monitors and critiques the effectiveness of the nascent Boeing Co.-managed $35.5 billion ground-based system of what is now 28 interceptors placed since mid-2004 in silos at Fort Greely, Alaska, and Vandenberg Air Force Base, California.

North Korea on April 4 attempted to launch a satellite on what some analysts said was a three-stage rocket capable of carrying a warhead that might reach the U.S. The reclusive regime has launched six short-range missiles this week that, while not able to strike the U.S., have refocused attention on American defenses.

Preparations at Site

A defense official in Washington said there is no major movement of personnel and equipment at a North Korean site to suggest that a second long-range missile launch is imminent. The official said there is activity that points to possible preparations for a launch by August.

揟here抯 been very little testing so far?of the U.S. ground-based system compared with other missile-defense platforms, such as those on ships, McQueary said. 揑 wish we were further along, but we are not.?

Still, 搃f North Korea launched a missile or two against us, we wouldn抰 sit back and say, 慖 wonder if we have enough test data in order to launch,挃 McQueary said. 揥e would launch.?

Multiple Shots

In that scenario, the U.S. would likely launch multiple rockets at the incoming missile to raise the chance of an intercept, he said.

The ground-based Midcourse Defense system is a network of interceptor rockets linked by satellites, radar and communications networks. Chicago-based Boeing is the prime contractor. Northrop Grumman Corp., Raytheon Co. and Orbital Sciences Corp. are the top subcontractors.

The ground-based system, counting a December test, has had eight successful intercepts in 13 attempts since 1999.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates limited the number of interceptors that will be placed in the ground to 30 from 44 in April as part of an overhaul of defense programs. Gates said 30 is an adequate number to handle a North Korean threat.

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Post time 2009-5-31 20:48:20 |Display all floors
S. Korea Criticizes N. Korea Over Nuclear, Missile Tests

AP
Sunday, May 31, 2009  

SEOGWIPO, South Korea  ? South Korea and Thailand criticized North Korea on Sunday, saying the country's nuclear test threatens world peace and stability and harms efforts to prevent atomic proliferation.

The two nations' leaders discussed Pyongyang's latest nuclear blast on the sidelines of a summit between South Korea and Southeast Asian countries being held amid heavy security.

The event was planned months ago, but North Korea's underground nuclear test and a series of short-range missile launches last week threatens to steal the limelight from economic matters, the main focus of the agenda.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak and Thai Prime Minister Abhisit Vejjajiva agreed that the test goes against international efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation and "undermines peace and stability not only in East Asia but also in the whole world," Lee Dong-kwan, the South Korean president's chief spokesman, told reporters.

They also agreed to exert diplomatic pressure to assure North Korea complies with U.N. Security Council resolutions and "promptly returns to six-party talks" aimed at ridding it of nuclear weapons.

The summit venue of Seogwipo ?on the island of Jeju off the southern coast ?is the South Korean city farthest away from the North. Still, the nervous South Korean government is taking no chances, positioning a surface-to-air missile outside the venue aimed toward the north.

Some 5,000 police officers, including approximately 200 commandos, and special vehicles that can analyze sarin gas and other chemicals have been deployed nearby, security authorities said in a press release. Marines, special forces and air patrols also kept watch on the island.

Leaders of the 10 members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations began arriving for the two-day summit, which officially begins Monday and commemorates 20 years of relations between South Korea and the bloc. South Korea's president planned to use Sunday for individual meetings with ASEAN leaders.

But concerns about North Korea's most recent bout of saber-rattling loomed. South Korean officials said Saturday that spy satellites had spotted signs that the North may be preparing to transport a long-range missile to a launch site.

The North has attacked South Korean targets before, bombing a Korea Air jet in 1987 and trying to kill then-President Chun Doo-hwan in Myanmar in 1983. But Pyongyang has largely abandoned such overt tactics in the past two decades.

The U.N. Security Council is still weighing how to react to the North's belligerent moves that have earned Pyongyang criticism from the U.S., Europe, Russia and even the North's closest ally, China.

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Saturday that North Korea's progress on nuclear weapons and long-range missiles is "a harbinger of a dark future" and has created an urgent need for more pressure on the reclusive communist government to change its ways.

Gates, speaking at an annual meeting of defense and security officials in Singapore, said Pyongyang's efforts pose the potential for an arms race in Asia that could spread beyond the region.

An incensed North Korea said last month that it was quitting the six-party negotiations after the U.N. Security Council condemned its April 5 rocket launch, widely believed to be a test of its long-range missile technology. The Security Council has imposed sanctions against the North over its first nuclear test in October 2006.

The six-party framework, which began in 2003, consists of the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States.

ASEAN consists of Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

In addition to the summit, a gathering of South Korean and Southeast Asian business leaders began Sunday with addresses by Lee and Abhisit, who both called for further cooperation to overcome the global economic crisis.

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Post time 2009-6-1 20:36:09 |Display all floors
Reports: N. Korea Prepares Long-Range Missile

AP
Monday, June 01, 2009  

SEOUL, South Korea ? North Korea is preparing to launch its most advanced missile, believed to be capable of reaching Alaska, from its west coast near China, news reports said Monday.

With the launch, the reclusive communist country could thumb its nose at U.N. Security Council attempts to rein it in after last week's nuclear test and a series of short-range missile launches.

One South Korean report said the launch could be ready by the time South Korean President Lee Myung-bak meets with President Barack Obama on June 16.

South Korean news reports said the North has transported a long-range missile to a newly completed launch pad. And Yonhap news agency said South Korea is studying an intelligence report that the North has ordered troops along the west coast to double their stocks of ammunition.

Yonhap cited an unnamed government official as saying vehicle activity to and from military bases along the coast has increased. South Korea's Defense Ministry declined to confirm the report.

U.S Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking at a news conference in the Philippines, said North Korea appears to be working on a long-range missile but it's not clear yet what they plan to do with it.

Lee, hosting a conference of Southeast Asian leaders on the southern island of Jeju, warned North Korea against any provocation.

"If North Korea turns its back on dialogue and peace and dares to carry out military threats and provocations, the Republic of Korea will never tolerate that," Lee said in his regular radio address. "I want to make clear that there won't be any compromise on things that threaten our nation's security."

The new missile could be ready to launch as soon as mid-June, in time for a summit between Lee and President Barack Obama in Washington on June 16, according to the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper.

Adding to tensions this week, the trial starts Thursday in Pyongyang of two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, accused of entering the country illegally and engaging in "hostile acts."

North Korea faced strong international criticism after its last long-range missile launch, on April 5. The North said the launch was of a rocket intended to put a satellite in orbit. That Taepodong-2 rocket flew about 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers), crossing over Japan before crashing into the Pacific Ocean.

In late April, the North threatened to conduct nuclear and long-range missile tests unless the Security Council apologized for criticizing the launch. On Friday, it threatened to take a further "self-defense" measure if the Security Council provokes it. That threat was seen as referring to an ICBM test.

In another sign that a new launch is in the works, the North has designated a large area off its west coast as a "no-sail" zone through the end of next month, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper said, citing unidentified intelligence officials.

Experts said the preparations were especially significant because the North has never launched a long-range missile from the northwestern base.

Kim Tae-woo, vice president of Seoul's state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, said he thinks the North chose the site because of its proximity to China, making it more risky for the U.S. to strike.

The site is about 40 miles from the Chinese border city of Dandong.

The missile being prepared for launch is believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile with a range of up to 4,000 miles, the JoongAng Ilbo reported, citing an unnamed South Korean official.

That would put Alaska within striking range.

On Monday, the North said again that it is being provoked by South Korea and the United States, saying that the number of spy planes operating in its airspace has risen dramatically.

"The U.S. imperialists and the South Korean puppets perpetrated at least 200 cases of aerial espionage against the DPRK in May, or 30 cases more than those in the same month of last year," it said in a report in its official Korean Central News Agency.

The DPRK is an abbreviation of North Korea's official name.

The North's missile and nuclear programs have been considered a top regional security concern, though the regime is not yet believed to have mastered the technology to make a nuclear warhead small enough to mount on a missile.

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