Intelligence on North Korea `Very Poor,' Terry Says
U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said North Korea has
“been skating very close to a dangerous line” and should tone down its
“bellicose rhetoric” to ease mounting tensions in the region.
“Their actions and their
words have not helped defuse a combustible situation,” Hagel said
yesterday at a Pentagon news conference. He said the U.S. is “fully
prepared to deal with any contingency.”
Tensions have risen since
North Korea conducted a nuclear weapons test in February in defiance of
tightened United Nations sanctions that were backed by China,
its closest ally and biggest trading partner. Kim Jong Un’s regime has
threatened pre-emptive nuclear strikes against its enemies, and this
week pulled workers from a joint industrial complex with South Korea.
possibility of a ballistic missile launch is “very high” and “may
materialize anytime from now,” South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung
Se told lawmakers in Seoul yesterday. South Korean and U.S. forces
upgraded their joint surveillance “Watchcon” status by one level to
monitor for an imminent missile firing, Yonhap reported, citing unnamed
Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of the U.S.
Pacific Command, told Congress on April 9 that North Korea moved at
least one of its medium-range Musudan missiles to its eastern coast.
Imagery from a Japanese intelligence satellite shows the missile
launchpad has been put in a raised position, Kyodo News reported today,
citing an unidentified Defense Ministry official.
Korean shares fell today, with the Kospi index down 0.2 percent at
11:17 a.m. in Seoul. The won strengthened 0.5 percent to 1,129.95 versus
Japan is taking all precautions for potential North Korean action, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told reporters today in Tokyo, declining to comment on the Kyodo report.
Korea today blamed the South for this week’s suspension of operations
at the jointly run Gaeseong industrial complex north of the border,
while emphasizing the move was “temporary,” the official Korean Central
News Agency said, citing an unidentified government spokesman. The
future of the zone depends on South Korea’s attitude, the spokesman
More than 53,300 North Korean laborers didn’t show up for
work yesterday, extending for a second day the halt in operations for
123 South Korean companies based there, Unification Ministry spokesman
Kim Hyung Suk said.
About 110 South Koreans left Gaeseong
yesterday, leaving behind nearly 300 others in the complex, the ministry
said. Thirty-five others are scheduled to exit the park today.
conduct is an attempt to gain attention and concessions for his
impoverished state rather than a sign that war is imminent, according to
Huh Moon Young, an analyst at state-run Korea Institute for National
Unification in Seoul.
Korea is not looking to self-destruct,” Huh said. “It’s trying to raise
an issue with the international community and also grab the U.S. and
China’s attention in a highly calculated manner.”
national security chief Kim Jang Soo said this week that North Korea may
stage a provocation, such as firing a missile, around April 10. The
North has been prepared for a fourth underground atomic weapons test at
its Punggye-ri site since conducting its last one, according to South
Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min Seok.
Ministry spokesman Hong Lei yesterday called on all parties to show
restraint and take responsibility for nuclear-free Korean peninsula. He
said that while some Chinese tour groups have canceled trips to North
Korea, the situation on the border and diplomatic ties remain normal.
Korea may fire a missile around April 15, the anniversary of state
founder Kim Il Sung’s birth, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim
said. Kim Il Sung, who died in 1994, is the grandfather of the current
leader. Last April 13, North Korea fired a long range rocket that
disintegrated shortly after liftoff, then successfully launched another
The Musudan missile has a range of 3,000 miles
(4,827 kilometers) to 3,500 miles -- enough to be a potential threat to
Guam, though not to Hawaii or the U.S. mainland, Locklear told a Senate committee in Washington.
called Kim “more unpredictable” than his late father, Kim Jong Il, and
grandfather, who always figured into their “provocation cycle an
off-ramp of how to get out of it.”
U.S. Army General Martin
Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, declined yesterday to
say whether North Korea has the capability to mount a nuclear warhead on
a ballistic missile.
“In the absence of concrete evidence to the
contrary, we have to assume the worst case,” Dempsey said at the news
conference with Hagel.
North Korea is the most likely culprit for
a March 20 cyber attack on South Korean banks and television stations,
Science Ministry official Lee Seung Won said yesterday. Initial
investigation results show “evidence similar” to methods used by North
Korea’s reconnaissance bureau, Lee said.
To contact the reporters on this story: Sangwon Yoon in Seoul at firstname.lastname@example.org; David Lerman in Washington at email@example.com
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Rosalind Mathieson at firstname.lastname@example.org