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North Korea Close To Making New Missiles Operational

This year the North has tested a series of short-range missiles. On June 27, it fired ground-to-ground and ground-to-ship missiles with a range of about 100 kilometres (60 miles).
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Jul 07, 2007
North Korea has successfully tested new short-range missiles and is close to making them operational, posing a threat to South Korea and Japan, a senior US defence official said. Yonhap news agency quoted Richard Lawless, outgoing deputy undersecretary of defence as saying: "We have a problem with the new system because it's much more accurate, it's much more survivable than the huge Scud force ... already targeted on (South Korea)."

Lawless, speaking to reporters Friday in Washington, said the US was "talking actively" to the South Korean government, and both governments viewed the matter with concern.

"You have for the first time in the North Korean inventory a solid-fuel, highly mobile, highly accurate system whose only purpose, given its range, is to strike (South Korea)," he was quoted as saying.

In July last year the North test-fired seven missiles, including the Taepodong-2, which in theory could reach the US west coast.

This year the North has tested a series of short-range missiles. On June 27, it fired ground-to-ground and ground-to-ship missiles with a range of about 100 kilometres (60 miles).

South Korea's defence ministry said the latest launches were aimed at testing and developing new ballistic missiles.

North Kora's missile launches have heightened tensions in the region in the past decade. In 1998 North Korea sparked alarm in Japan by test-firing a long-range missile over that country.

Some analysts in Seoul say the North, after staging its first nuclear test last October, might be preparing the ground for another long-range missile test.

Japan's defence report published Friday warned that North Korea is improving its missile system to cover all east Asia, including Japan, and potentially reach the northern tip of Australia as well as part of Alaska.

The North's ballistic missiles "are now regarded as more practical," it said.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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