Tue, Apr 07, 2015 - Page 5 News List

N Korea declares no-sail sector off its eastern coast

MORE MISSILE TESTS:A South Korean official said no official notice had been given to Seoul or the IMO. The US’ new defense secretary arrives in Seoul on Thursday

Reuters, SEOUL

North Korea has declared a no-sail zone for its ships off its east coast, South Korean media reported yesterday, suggesting more missile launches are possible before the US defense chief visits Seoul this week.

Pyongyang fired four short-range missiles off its west coast on Friday last week in what South Korea called a bid to stoke tension during its annual joint military drills with the US.

The two Koreas are locked in a tense standoff, trading harsh rhetoric recently over the arrest by Pyongyang of two South Korean nationals it accused of espionage.

It was not clear if the latest warning for ships to stay clear of an area off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast was a direct indication of an imminent missile launch.

“There are no signs of peculiar movements,” South Korean Ministry of National Defense deputy spokesman Na Seung-yong told a briefing.

Na said a no-sail warning had not been sent to Seoul or the International Maritime Organization (IMO).

North Korea has reported to the IMO before previous long-range missile launches, which it has claimed were rockets to launch satellites. The North is under UN sanctions banning it from developing ballistic missile technologies.

US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is due to start a three-day visit to South Korea on Thursday.

South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency quoted unidentified government officials as saying the no-sail warning has been in effect since Wednesday last week and could indicate that a launch of a mid-range Rodong missile was “possible,” according to an official quoted by Yonhap.

North Korea last test-fired its mid-range Rodong missile, which has a design range of 1,300 km, in March last year, while the leaders of South Korea, Japan and the US were meeting to discuss the threat from the North.

Pyongyang did not issue a no-sail warning before that launch.

North Korea frequently test fires short-range missiles into the sea, often in what are seen as a response to the US-South Korean drills.

Last month, North Korea tested two short-range missiles off its eastern coast without designating a no-sail zone, drawing protest from Japan.

North Korea, which has threatened to carry out a fourth nuclear test, could be close to being able to put a nuclear warhead on a missile, some experts say, with the mid-range Rodong the most likely to be used.

This story has been viewed 2006 times.

Comments will be moderated. Keep comments relevant to the article. Remarks containing abusive and obscene language, personal attacks of any kind or promotion will be removed and the user banned. Final decision will be at the discretion of the Taipei Times.

TOP top