Tue, Mar 18, 2014 - Page 1 News List

S Korea urges North to stop rocket tests

AFP, Seoul and Geneva, Switzerland

South Korea yesterday urged North Korea to stop what it called “provocative” and potentially dangerous rocket and missile tests, a day after Pyongyang test-fired 25 projectiles into the sea.

The North on Sunday fired the volley of rockets into the Sea of Japan (known as the “East Sea” in South Korea and the “East Sea of Korea” in North Korea), the latest in a series of launches in recent weeks that have sparked criticism from Seoul and Washington.

The show of force is apparently intended to express anger at the South’s continuing joint military exercises with its ally the US.

“The North should stop actions that cause military tension and unnerve its neighbors,” South Korean Ministry of Defense spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters.

The South’s military was closely watching the North’s troop movements, Kim said, citing the possibility of more rocket launches.

The rockets fired on Sunday were aging versions of Russian-developed Frog rockets, he said, adding that the North fired more than normally expected.

The US Department of State called on Pyongyang to refrain from “provocative actions that aggravate tensions.”

Beijing expressed concern earlier this month after the North test-fired a rocket into the flight path of a Chinese airliner.

Chinese special envoy Wu Dawei (武大偉) arrived in Pyongyang yesterday, the North’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said in a brief report, which did not specify the trip’s purpose.

The annual South Korean-US military drills started late last month and will run until the middle of next month.

The North has habitually slammed the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises — along with other military drills south of the border — as rehearsals for an invasion.

Seoul and Washington say they are purely defensive.

Last week, the powerful North Korean National Defense Commission threatened to demonstrate its nuclear deterrent in the face of what it called US hostility.

However, the South Korean Ministry of Defense said there was no sign of an imminent nuclear test by the North, which staged three atomic tests in 2006, 2009 and last year.

As the North continues to flex its military muscle, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un guided an air force and air defense exercise, KCNA said yesterday.

The servicemen vowed to bring down “robber-like US imperialists” when ordered by Kim Jong-un as he praised their combat-readiness in the spirit of becoming “human bombs,” it said.

Separately, he led a meeting of the ruling party’s Central Military Commission to discuss combat-readiness and “important matters arising in increasing defense capability,” the news agency said.

Meanwhile, North Korean Ambassador to the UN So Se-pyon walked out of a Human Rights Council hearing in Geneva yesterday on rights violations in his country when Japan took the floor.

So first interrupted a statement by the head of the Japanese Association of Families of Victims Kidnapped by North Korea to challenge his right to address the council, before standing up and walking out in protest.

Shigeo Iizuka, the head of association, took the floor on behalf of Japan to speak about his own sister, Yaeko Taguchi, who was abducted from Japan by North Korea in 1978.

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