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article imageNorth Korea preparing its missile sites says Pyongyang

By Robert Myles     Mar 29, 2013 in World
Less than 24 hours after the United States despatched two nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers from their base in Missouri to fly dummy bombing runs over South Korea, North Korea has again ratcheted up the rhetoric in the Korean peninsula.
North Korea has wasted no time in responding to the United States sending two stealth B-2 bombers on a non-stop mission to South Korea by announcing that the North's missiles had been placed on alert, ready to target U.S bases in South Korea and the Pacific.
Yesterday’s announcement by North Korea followed a familiar pattern. Just over a week ago, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had initiated a mock drone strike on South Korea while vowing to attack U.S. military bases in Japan and Guam, as reported by Digital Journal. Now, the North Korean leader has announced that orders had been given for units of the North Korean military to place their rockets on alert in readiness for striking US bases in South Korea and the Pacific, reports North Korean news agency KCNA today.
Washington may have intended the overflight of the B-2 bombers as a ‘shock and awe’ warning to Pyongyang, in response to a series of bellicose statements emanating from the North Koreans, but as has happened so often in the past, the reaction of the North was to issue further threats against the southern half of the Korean peninsula and its United States ally.
Meeting with North Korean military leaders, KCNA reports the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un as saying he, “felt that the time had come to settle accounts with the U.S. imperialists, given the current situation." According to Reuters, KCNA reported, “He finally signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets of the KPA (Korean People's Army), ordering them to be on standby for fire so that they may strike any time the U.S. mainland, its military bases in the operational theaters in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea."
South Korean news agency Yonhap reports military sources in the South seeing an increased level of activity around North Korea’s missile sites, following South Korean and U.S. intelligence having focused their efforts on monitoring the North's missile sites. It quoted an anonymous military source as saying, “North Korea's launch sites to fire off mid- and long-range missiles have recently shown increased movement of vehicles and forces. We are closely watching possibilities of missile launches."
While, despite the reported state of the North’s missile readiness, Pyongyang may have no actual intentions of launching a missile strike, the dangers of a conflict starting unintentionally remain. Just today, Yonhap also reported that a North Korean Mig-21 fighter flew perilously close to South Korea's front-line airspace, known as the Tactical Action Line (TAL), before returning to base. The TAL is a line between 20 and 50 kilometres north of South Korean airspace. Any North Korean aircraft getting close to that line immediately results in South Korea sending up its own fighter jets as a precaution.
The supersonic Mig-21 has a maximum speed of about 2,000 km/h and even a minor navigational error could result in the aircraft straying into South Korean airspace with consequences that are not difficult to imagine. On this occasion, in response, the South Korean Air Force had scrambled a KF-16 fighter.
The latest round of sabre-rattling from North Korea was condemned by U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel. Speaking to CBS, Hagel said, “I don't think we're poking back or responding. I don't think we're doing anything extraordinary or provocative or out of the -- out of the orbit of what nations do to protect their own interests and assure ... not only to our South Korean ally, but to our other allies in the region, that we must make clear that these provocations by the North are taken by us very seriously and we'll respond to that."
More about North korea, north korean missiles, Korean war, South Korea, north korean propaganda
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