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    » 02/13/2009, 00.00

    KOREA

    Pyongyang prepares to launch a missile able to carry nuclear warheads



    The test could take place on February 25th the first anniversary of the mandate of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak. The Taepodong-2 missile is 36 metres tall and can contain up to 500 kg of nuclear warheads. February 16th the North celebrates the 67th birthday of the “dear Leader”.

    Seoul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Pyongyang is assembling a Taepodong-2 missile at Musudan-ri base in North Hamgyong province, on its east coast.  The rocket is able to carry a nuclear war head and the launch could take place February 25th next to coincide with the 1st anniversary of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak’s instalment, the South Korean paper Chosun Ilbo reports, citing intelligence sources in Seoul.

     “We assume – the source underlines - that they are currently assembling the first and second-stage rockets”. North Korea recently transported the first and second stage of the Taepodong-2 to its missile base on a special train and has been assembling the pieces at an indoor facility to prevent spy satellites from watching.

    Sources report the missile, thought to be about 36 metres tall, needs to be positioned vertically, sent to a launch pad and fuelled. It is capable of hitting Alaska and the West coast of the United States and can carry up to 500 kg of nuclear warheads.  On July 5th 2006 North Korea attempted to launch the same type of rocket but failed: the missile exploded 40 seconds after lift off.

    North Korea is also preparing to launch short-range missiles near Northern Limit Line, a disputed Yellow Sea border with South Korea off the west coast.

    The North will celebrate its “Dear Leader” leader Kim Jong-il's 67th birthday on Monday, who seems to have made a full recovery from the stroke he suffered August last.  Next week, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will make her first overseas trip: the head of US diplomacy will visit Asia and the North’s nuclear agenda will likely take top priority in talks.

     

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    See also

    12/03/2009 KOREA
    Pyongyang: satellite launch “imminent”
    The North’s communist regime reiterates its’ intention to push ahead with its spatial experiment. The launch should take place between April 4th and 8th. Seoul and Washington maintain it is a missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The US government threatens fresh sanctions at the UN Security Council. Kim Jong-un is not among the 687 new North Korean parliamentarians.

    17/02/2009 KOREA
    Pyongyang, the olive branch and the hammer for Hillary Clinton and Obama
    North Korea is issuing signals of detente, but also threats, hoping that the United States can assist in a transformation of the country, in the grip of economic collapse and the crisis of its ailing leader. Remarks come as Clinton visits Japan, South Korea, and China.

    20/02/2009 KOREA – UNITED STATES
    If North attacks, we shall respond appropriately, says Seoul
    The South Korean government abandons conciliatory tone, announces military response in case of a missile attack from the North. Radio Pyongyang warns against “the worst crisis” possible. Kim Jong-il promotes hawk to vice chairmanship of North Koera’s National Defence Commission. US Secretary of State Clinton says United States concerned about succession in North Korea.

    19/02/2009 KOREA - UNITED STATES
    Pyongyang ready for "all-out confrontation" with Seoul and Washington
    The statement, released by the official North Korean news agency KCNA, comes as U.S. secretary of state Clinton visits South Korea. Analysts say that the threat is intended to draw the attention of the United States to the nuclear question, and aid to the North. In China, a scholar has disappeared who released news about Kim Jong-il's health condition.

    26/07/2005 NORTH KOREA – SOUTH KOREA
    Some signs of flexibility between the United States and North Korea in Beijing
    Six-nation talks re-start in Beijing. They were interrupted in June 2004 when North Korea walked away from the negotiating table.



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