North Korea preparing for ballistic missile launch

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PostTue Feb 03, 2009 4:35 am » by 7hidden7agenda7

>>>North Korea said to be preparing for ballistic missile launch
1 hour 25 mins ago
Reuters Jon Herskovitz
North Korea appears to be preparing to test-launch its longest range ballistic missile, media reports said on Tuesday, stoking tensions just days after the reclusive state warned that the Korean peninsula was on the brink of war.
North Korea, which typically carries out missile tests in times of political friction, last week said it was scrapping all agreements with South Korea in a move analysts said was aimed at pressuring Seoul and grabbing the attention of new U.S. President Barack Obama.
The North, which tested a nuclear device in 2006, is seen as one of the greatest threats to regional security. But experts say they do not believe Pyongyang has developed the technology to miniaturise an atomic weapon so it can be mounted on a missile as a warhead.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency and Japan's Sankei Shimbun cited unnamed government sources as saying the North had been moving equipment used in the launch of its Taepodong-2 missile, which the test-fired in July 2006 only to see it fizzle and destruct a few seconds after leaving the launch pad.
A train carrying a large object had left a factory and was headed to the site of a newly constructed launch pad on the North's west coast, Yonhap quoted an unnamed South Korean government source as saying.
"The object is suspected as being a Taepodong-2," he said.
It will take North Korea at least a month or two to actually launch a Taepodong-2, the Sankei cited an unnamed Japanese government source as saying.
A security researcher at a South Korean state-run think tank said Pyongyang had two aims in carrying out a missile test.
"First, it helps the North to continuously develop and upgrade its long-range missiles. Second, they are seeking to send a political message," said the researcher, who asked not to be named because of the sensitive subject matter.
Financial market analysts in South Korea, used to North Korean sabre rattling, paid little attention to the reports.
"Markets tend not to respond to North Korea issues as sensitively as political circles would," said Hwang Keum-dan, an analyst at Samsung Securities.
"If they actually launch the missile, it may put pressure on sentiment, but only in the short-term."
A South Korean Defence Ministry official said he could not comment on intelligence matters but added the South keeps a constant eye on the North's military activities. Japanese government officials declined to comment.
The Taepodong-2 is designed to eventually have a range long enough to hit U.S. territory. Much of the preparation needed to get it ready can be seen by spy satellites.
North Korea already has more than 800 ballistic missiles that can hit all of South Korea and most of Japan, experts say.
The North's bureaucracy works slowly to form policy and it may still be trying to figure out its approach to the new Obama team, analysts have said, making it easier for Pyongyang to direct its anger at Washington's allies, including Seoul.
The North in recent months has repeatedly threatened to destroy the conservative government of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, which ended a decade of free-flowing aid to Pyongyang after taking office a year ago.
Lee and Obama agreed in their first conversation after Obama took office to cooperate on North Korea, the South's presidential Blue House said in reporting a Tuesday telephone call.
Lee's government has mostly ignored Pyongyang's taunts.
The North has sharpened its rhetoric in recent days just as its leader Kim Jong-il, thought to have suffered a stroke in August, appears to be fully recovered.
Kim met a foreign envoy last month for the first time since his suspected illness and a U.S. intelligence source said last week that Kim, who turns 67 on February 16, was firmly in control.
(Additional reporting by Jack Kim, Kim Junghyun and Park Jung-youn in Seoul and Yoko Kubota in Tokyo; Editing by Dean Yates)<<<
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PostTue Feb 03, 2009 4:37 am » by 7hidden7agenda7

Which brings this responce :arrow:
>>>US, SKorea vow to end NKorea nukes: WHouse
28 mins ago
US President Barack Obama has spoken with South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak and the two have vowed to work closely toward ending North Korea's nuclear weapons programs, the White House has said.
The two "discussed North Korea and agreed to work closely as allies and through the six-party talks to achieve the verifiable elimination of North Korea's nuclear weapons and programs," spokesman Robert Gibbs said in a statement.
"In a warm and substantive talk, the president conveyed his deep commitment to the United States-Republic of Korea alliance. Both presidents expressed their intention to expand cooperation on global issues," Gibbs added.
The pair also "discussed the current financial crisis and agreed to work together, including at the G-20 Summit in London, to stabilize the global economy, to spur growth, and to get credit markets flowing."
In Seoul, presidential spokesman Lee Dong-Kwan said the accord came during a phone conversation that lasted about 15 minutes.
"Regarding the North Korean nuclear issue, President Obama said it is important for the countries to increase their cooperation in the six-party talks," the spokesman told a briefing.
"President Lee expressed thanks to the new US administration for showing a resolute attitude regarding the North Korean nuclear issue."
The US leader also said "a series of recent developments" had led him to realize that the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula can be achieved at an early date through cooperation among six nations, the spokesman said.
The two leaders said they expect to have "in-depth discussions" when US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton visits South Korea this month during her Asian trip, which also covers China and Japan, the spokesman said.
No date has been fixed yet, but news reports said Clinton is expected to make the trip around mid-February.
The six nation talks -- which group the two Koreas, the United States, China, Japan and Russia -- began in 2003 to disarm nuclear-armed North Korea.
A six-nation deal signed in February 2007 offers the North energy aid, normalized ties with Washington and Tokyo and a permanent peace pact if it dismantles its atomic plants and hands over all nuclear weapons and material.
But the disarmament talks are stalled by disagreements over how the North's declared nuclear activities should be verified.
Earlier Monday, North Korea's military vowed to keep atomic weapons until the United States removes its nuclear threat, reiterating its tough stance.
"The DPRK (North Korea) will never 'dismantle its nuclear weapons' unless nukes in South Korea are dismantled to remove the nuclear threat from the US," a spokesman for the North's General Chiefs of Staff was quoted as saying by the official Korea Central News Agency.
South Korea denies having any atomic weapons<<<
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