by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) May 30, 2017
South Korea's new President Moon Jae-In Tuesday ordered an investigation into why his office was kept in the dark about the arrival of four more launchers for a controversial US missile defence system, his spokesman said.
The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system is being deployed in South Korea to counter threats from North Korea, which on Monday test-fired another missile as it seeks to develop its nuclear weapons programme.
The left-leaning Moon, who took office this month following the ousting of impeached president Park Geun-Hye, has previously expressed ambivalence over THAAD. The system is strongly opposed by China for fear it will undermine its own military capabilities.
Moon's spokesman said the defence ministry, while briefing the de facto transition team last week, had failed to tell the new government that four more launchers had been brought into the country.
The president has not yet reshuffled the cabinet appointed by his predecessor Park Geun-Hye.
"President Moon said it was very shocking," spokesman Yoon Young-Chan told journalists.
"He ordered (an investigation) to find out how the four additional launchers were brought into the country, who made such a decision, why this has not been disclosed to the people and why this has not been reported to the new administration even to date."
One THAAD battery is usually composed of a powerful X-band radar, six mobile launchers and 48 missiles.
Two missile launchers are already in place and the existence of four more had widely been suspected but not announced.
The conservative government under Park started installing the THAAD system to cope with North Korea's missile and nuclear threats.
But tensions between South Korea and China have risen as a result, sparking economic boycotts by Beijing. Chinese tour groups have quietly halted visits to the South and supermarkets under the Lotte brand -- the company that made land available for THAAD -- are losing business in China.
The system has also drawn strong objections from people living near the site.
Moon wants to put THAAD's deployment on hold, saying it should be discussed and approved by parliament and citing its potential impact on the country's security and environment.
N. Korea says ballistic missile test successful: media
The North's leader Kim Jong-Un had supervised the launch of the "new-type precision-guided ballistic rocket", the official KCNA news agency reported.
It was the third missile test by the nuclear-armed regime in less than three weeks, defying UN sanctions warnings and US threats of possible military action.
"The ballistic rocket flew toward the east sky where the day broke and correctly hit a planned target point... after flying over the middle shooting range," KCNA said.
South Korea's military has said the Scud-type missile travelled eastward for 450 km (280 miles). Japan said it believed it had fallen into its exclusive economic zone, extending 200 nautical miles from the coast.
The missile test triggered swift condemnation from US President Donald Trump who said it showed "disrespect" for neighbouring China, the North's sole major ally, which has sought to ease tensions over Pyongyang's weapons programme.
The launch was aimed at testing a weapon "capable of making ultra-precision strike on the enemies' objects at any area", the North Korean report said.
"It also verified ultra-precision guidance correctness in the re-entry section," it said.
"Whenever news of our valuable victory is broadcast... the Yankees would be very much worried about it and the gangsters of the south Korean puppet army would be dispirited more and more," the report quoted Kim as saying.
It added that the projectile was showcased for the first time last month as part of Pyongyang's annual military parade to mark the 105th birth anniversary of the regime's founder Kim Il-Sung.
Following North Korea's test-firing earlier this month of what analysts said was its longest-range rocket yet, the UN Security Council vowed to push all countries to tighten sanctions against Pyongyang.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called Tuesday for "strong action" during telephone talks with South Korean President Moon jae-In about the latest launch.
"Prime Minister Abe said dialogue for the sake of dialogue is meaningless and it is necessary now to put pressure on North Korea," a Japanese foreign ministry statement quoted him as saying.
"He also said China's role is extremely important."
But China has made it clear that the push for talks -- and not more sanctions -- is its priority. On Monday it pleaded again for dialogue.
"We hope that related parties can remain calm and restrained, ease the tension on the peninsula, and bring the peninsula issue into the right track of peaceful dialogue again," the Chinese foreign ministry said.
Several rounds of UN sanctions have done little to stop the isolated regime from pushing ahead with its ambition to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental US.
Seoul (AFP) May 30, 2017
North Korea on Tuesday boasted its test of a precision-guided missile was "successful", saying it had zeroed in within a few metres of a target provocatively close to Japan the day before. The North's leader Kim Jong-Un supervised the launch of the guided ballistic rocket - the third missile test by the nuclear-armed regime in less than three weeks and carried out in defiance of US threats ... read more
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