South Korea has monitored new preparations for a possible missile launch in North Korea, military sources said on Sunday, as Washington and Seoul’s top generals vowed to counter any attacks from Pyongyang.
US Army General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, met his South Korean counterpart Army General Jung Seung Jo during a three-hour stop in Seoul on Sunday on his way to a four-day visit to China. “The two allies have the capabilities and will to counter any North Korean provocative threats,” they said in a joint statement after their meeting.
They added that “North Korea’s recent torrent of provocative threats will have an unfavourable impact on the isolated communist regime,” according to the Yonhap news agency.
Latest satellite imagery showed that Pyongyang has moved two more missile launchers to its east coast, Yonhap reported Sunday.
The two additional mobile launchers were spotted at the South Hamgyeong province after April 16, it quoted a defence source as saying, “The military is closely watching the North’s latest preparations for a missile launch,” the source said.
The North was monitored earlier in the month to have positioned two mid-range Musudan missiles in Wonson and at least five mobile launchers in Wonson and South Hamgyeong Province.
The movements led South Korean authorities to believe that Pyongyang was preparing for a test launch to coincide with the 101st birth anniversary of its late founder Kim Il Sung on April 15.
No missile launch was conducted then, as the US government warned North Korea that it would be a “huge mistake.” South Korea’s military has been on high alert since the North ordered its armed forces on March 26 to be combat-ready, Yonhap said. “As long as this order remains in place, there are possibilities that the North could fire off a missile,” a defence source said.
North Korea has been issuing almost daily threats since the UN imposed tougher sanctions against the communist state after it conducted a third nuclear test in February.
The US and South Korea have called on Pyongyang to resume the six-party talks over its nuclear programmes to ease tensions on the peninsula.
The negotiations involving both Koreas, the US, Japan, Russia and China, stalled in 2009.
But Pyongyang said on Saturday it would never agree to talks on denuclearization, but would be open to negotiations for arms reduction. It added it will not give up its nuclear programme until the entire world is denuclearized.