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Launch of two Musudan missiles on North Korea east coast possibly postponed

April 29, 2013, 18:49 UTC+3
The ministry official said that “the regime of stepped up security measures will be maintained as long as the missiles are in position
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Photo EPA/ITAR-TASS

Photo EPA/ITAR-TASS

SEOUL, April 29 (Itar-Tass) - The telemetry signals from two Musudan ballistic missiles, deployed on the eastern coast of North Korea have recently been breaking off. This may indicate that the active preparation for their launch has been stopped. However, the armed forces of South Korea do not yet intend to weaken vigilance, a representative of the South Korean Ministry of Defence stated here on Monday.

“The signals appear and break off,” he said. “However, the North may stage a provocation any time, as long as these missiles are not removed from combat positions. It is hard to understand its intentions - probably it is just trying to mislead us.”

The ministry official said that “the regime of stepped up security measures will be maintained as long as the missiles are in position.” He said that their deployment area has not changed much.

The two latest Musudan ballistic missiles with the range of up to 4 thousand kilometres are based on mobile launchers in shelters to the north of the port of Wonsan on the east coast of North Korea. Seven Scud ballistic missiles with the range of 300-500 kilometres and a Nodong missile with the range of about 1.3 thousand kilometres are deployed to the north in the coastal area of South Hamgyong Province.

Japan's Asahi Shimbun newspaper reported earlier Monday that North Korea suspended preparations for a launch and the US military lowered its surveillance level by a notch. The paper cited unidentified South Korea, US and Japanese officials as saying that no radio signal related to launch preparations has been detected since around April 20.

But South Korea’s presidential office Cheong Wa Dae denied the report. “Our assessment is that preparations for a Musudan missile launch are still going on,” presidential spokesman Yoon Chang-jung told reporters. “We decided to immediately deny the report because this is a matter related to our national security.”

Yoon also said that the absence of such a radio signal does not necessarily mean that preparations for a launch have been halted.

According to experts, this indicates that no launch is expected in the next few days. The giant floating radar Observation Island with a displacement of more than 17 tonnes, which tracks missile launches, has also been returned from the North Korean coastal area to the US Navy base in the Japanese port of Sasebo. This is also assessed as a sign that the Musudan missiles will not be launched so far.

At the same time, nine different types of ballistic missiles are still in positions on the coast of North Korea. Washington, Seoul and Tokyo have not ruled out that their launches and perhaps a new underground nuclear test will be carried out by Pyongyang close to July 27, when the 60th anniversary of the end of the Korean War of 1950-1953 will be marked.

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