The Herald Bulletin

Morning Update

Breaking News

April 10, 2013

No panic in NKorea despite talk of missile test

PYONGYANG, North Korea — The prospect of a North Korean missile test is "considerably high," South Korea's foreign minister told lawmakers Wednesday as Pyongyang calmly prepared to mark the April 15 birthday of its founder, historically a time when it seeks to draw the world's attention with dramatic displays of military power.

The missile is expected to have a medium range, or about 3,500 kilometers (2,180 miles), which would allow it to fly over Japan, Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told lawmakers in Seoul. Earlier, a Defense Ministry official said preparations appeared to be complete, and that the launch could take place at any time.

Yun said Seoul was bracing for the test-fire of a ballistic missile dubbed "Musudan" by foreign experts after the name of the northeastern village where North Korea has a launch pad. Experts said the Musudan is mainly designed to reach the U.S. territory of Guam though it can also place U.S. military installations in Japan in its striking range.

North Korean officials have not announced plans to launch a missile, but have told foreign diplomats in Pyongyang that they will not be able to guarantee their safety starting Wednesday. Officials also have urged tourists in South Korea to take cover, warning that a nuclear war is imminent. However, most diplomats and foreign residents appeared to be staying put.

The threats are largely seen as rhetoric and an attempt by North Korea to scare foreigners into pressing their governments to pressure Washington and Seoul to change their policies toward Pyongyang, as well as to boost the military credentials of North Korea's young leader, Kim Jong Un. North Korea does not have diplomatic relations with the U.S. and South Korea, its foes during the Korean War of the 1950s.

On the streets of Pyongyang, the focus was less on preparing for war and more on beautifying the city ahead of the nation's biggest holiday. Soldiers laid blankets of sod to liven up a city still coming out of a long, cold winter; gardeners got down on their knees to plant flowers and trees, and students marched off to school — ordinary springtime activities belying the high tensions.

Downtown, schoolchildren headed toward the towering statues of the two late leaders, Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il, dragging brooms behind them. The brooms are used to sweep the plaza where the bronze statues stand on a hilltop overlooking Pyongyang. A group of women with coats thrown over traditional dresses rushed through the spring chill after leaving a rehearsal for a dance set to take place for Kim Il Sung's birthday celebrations.

At the base of Mansu Hill, a group of young people held a small rally to pledge their loyalty to Kim Jong Un and to sing the Kim ode "We Will Defend the Marshal With Our Lives."

Kim Un Chol, the 40-year-old head of a political unit at Pyongyang's tobacco factory, said he had been discharged from the military but was willing to re-enlist if war breaks out. He said North Koreans were resolute.

"The people of Pyongyang are confident. They know we can win any war," he told The Associated Press. "We now have nuclear weapons. So you won't see any worry on people's faces, even if the situation is tense."

North Korea sporadically holds civil air raid drills during which citizens practice blacking out their windows and seeking shelter. But no such drills have been held in recent months, local residents said.

Last year, the days surrounding the centennial of the birth of Kim Il Sung, grandfather of the current ruler, were marked by parades of tanks, goose-stepping soldiers and missiles, as well as the failed launch of a satellite-carrying rocket widely believed by the U.S. and its allies in the West to be a test of ballistic missile technology. A subsequent test in December went off successfully, and that was followed by the country's third underground nuclear test on Feb. 12 this year, possibly taking the regime closer to mastering the technology for mounting an atomic bomb on a missile.

The resulting U.N. sanctions and this spring's annual U.S.-South Korean military drills have been met with an unending string of threats and provocations from the North.

Adm. Samuel Locklear, commander of U.S. Pacific Command, told the Senate Armed Services Committee in Washington on Tuesday that North Korea's persistent nuclear and missile programs and threats have created "an environment marked by the potential for miscalculation."

He said the U.S. military and its allies would be ready if North Korea tries to strike.

North Korea has been escalating tensions with the U.S. and South Korea, its wartime foes, for months. The tightened U.N. sanctions that followed the nuclear test drew the ire of North Korea, which accused Washington and Seoul of leading the campaign against it. Annual U.S.-South Korean military drills south of the border have further incensed Pyongyang, which sees them as practice for an invasion.

Last week, Kim Jong Un enshrined the pursuit of nuclear weapons — which the North characterizes as a defense against the U.S. — as a national goal, along with improving the economy. North Korea also declared it would restart a mothballed nuclear complex.

Citing the tensions with Seoul, North Korea on Monday pulled more than 50,000 workers from the Kaesong industrial park, which combines South Korean technology and know-how with cheap North Korean labor. It was the first time that production was stopped at the decade-old factory park, the only remaining symbol of economic cooperation between the Koreas.

A test-fire of the Musudan missile would violate U.N. Security Council resolutions banning North Korea from nuclear and missile activity, and escalate tensions with the U.S., South Korea and Japan.

Japan has deployed PAC-3 missile interceptors in key locations around Tokyo.

The South Korean and U.S. militaries also have raised their surveillance level, called Watch Condition, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said. He refused to confirm a Yonhap News Agency report in Seoul saying it had been raised to 2, the second-highest level. He spoke on condition of anonymity, saying he wasn't authorized to speak to media.

One historian, James Person, noted that it isn't the first time North Korea has warned that a war was imminent.

He said that in 1968, following North Korea's seizure of an American ship, the USS Pueblo, Pyongyang persistently advised foreign diplomats to prepare for a U.S. counterattack. Cables from the Romanian mission in Pyongyang showed embassies were instructed to build anti-air bunkers "to protect foreigners against air attacks," he said.

The cables were obtained and posted online by the Wilson Center's North Korea International Documentation Project.

Person called it one of North Korea's first forays into what he dubs "military adventurism."

"In 1968, there was some concern there would be an attack, but (the North Koreans) certainly were building it up to be more than it was in hopes of getting more assistance from their allies at the time," Person said by phone from Alexandria, Virginia.

"I think much of it was hot air then. Today, I think again, it's more hot air," he said. "The idea is to scare people into pressuring the United States to return to negotiations with North Korea. That's the bottom line."

 

1
Text Only
Breaking News
  • Doctor: Patient killed caseworker before gunfight

    A doctor told police that a patient fatally shot a caseworker at their hospital complex before the doctor pulled out his own gun and exchanged fire with him and wounded him, a prosecutor said Thursday night.

    July 25, 2014

  • Feds plan review of FSSA over Medicaid backlog

    Federal officials are reviewing Indiana's procedures for enrolling residents in Medicaid after finding the state had 80,000 low-income residents awaiting approval in May.

    July 25, 2014

  • Very bad week: Airline disasters come in a cluster

    Nearly 300 passengers perish when their plane is shot out of the sky. Airlines suspend flights to Israel's largest airport after rocket attacks. An airliner crashes during a storm, and yet another disappears. Aviation has suffered one of its worst weeks in memory, a cluster of disasters spanning three continents.

    July 24, 2014

  • Indiana receives 245 children caught at US border

    New federal data show more than 200 unaccompanied children caught at the U.S. border have been placed with sponsors in Indiana.

    July 24, 2014

  • Witness: Teen's plane didn't show obvious distress

    A man who saw a plane flown by an Indiana teen who was killed during an around-the-world flight attempt says the aircraft was flying low but didn't show any obvious signs of distress before diving into the ocean off American Samoa.

    July 24, 2014

  • Ryan Dalziel takes Brickyard Grand Prix pole

    Defending race winner Ryan Dalziel earned his first IMSA TUDOR United SportsCar Championship pole position of the season Thursday in qualifying for Friday's Brickyard Grand Prix.

    July 24, 2014

  • Ohio State marching band chief fired after probe

    Ohio State University fired the director of its celebrated marching band on Thursday after determining he ignored a "sexualized" culture of rituals including students being pressured to march in their underwear and participate in sexually themed stunts.

    July 24, 2014

  • Gary man charged with murder in officer's death

    Prosecutors charged a 24-year-old man Thursday in the shooting death of a Gary police officer.

    July 24, 2014

  • MDU1.jpg Colts Camp Update: Pagano praises city, AU

    Blue skies and comfortable temperatures greeted the Indianapolis Colts on the first practice day of training camp Thursday at Anderson University.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • Indiana homeowners face $1.5M dam repairs bill

    A state agency says six dams on small lakes in a northern Indiana subdivision need about $1.5 million in repairs that the homeowners should pay to have completed.

    July 24, 2014

Featured Ads
More Resources from The Herald Bulletin
AP Video
Power to Be Restored After Wash. Wildfire Crashed Air Algerie Plane Found in Mali Israel Mulls Ceasefire Amid Gaza Offensive In Case of Fire, Oxygen Masks for Pets Mobile App Gives Tour of Battle of Atlanta Sites Anti-violence Advocate Killed, but Not Silenced. Dempsey: Putin May Light Fire and Lose Control Arizona Prison Chief: Execution Wasn't Botched Calif. Police Investigate Peacock Shooting Death Raw: Protesters, Soldiers Clash in West Bank Police: Doctor Who Shot Gunman 'Saved Lives' 'Modern Family' Star on Gay Athletes Coming Out MN Twins Debut Beer Vending Machine DA: Pa. Doctor Fired Back at Hospital Gunman Raw: Iowa Police Dash Cam Shows Wild Chase
Parade
Magazine

Click HERE to read all your Parade favorites including Hollywood Wire, Celebrity interviews and photo galleries, Food recipes and cooking tips, Games and lots more.
Hyperlocal Search
Premier Guide
Find a business

Walking Fingers
Maps, Menus, Store hours, Coupons, and more...
Premier Guide
Helium debate
Helium
Front page
Poll

How important do you consider preschool for children?

Vital
Important but not critical
Not necessary
     View Results