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N. Korean missile not aimed at US mainland : Seoul defense chief.

| TOKYO, April 4 (KUNA) -- South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said Thursday that North Korea has moved an intermediate-range missile to its east coast for an imminent test firing or military drill, but it does not seem to be aimed at striking the US mainland, Yonhap News Agency reported.

In a parliamentary defense committee meeting in Seoul, Kim refuted media reports that Pyongyang has moved a KN-08 missile, which is believed to have a range of 10,000 km, into position to strike the US. Without specifying the type of missile, Kim said it is believed to be able to reach a "considerable distance," though it is not able to strike the US mainland.

"The missile does not seem to be aimed at the US mainland," Kim was quoted as telling South Korean lawmakers. "It could be aimed at test firing or military drills. Our military has upgraded several systems and carried out drills under upgraded military readiness status," Kim said. According to intelligence analysis by South Korean and US forces, it is believed to be a Musudan missile, which is estimated to have a range of 3,000-4,000 km, putting the US base in Guam within striking.

In positioning the missile on its east coast, the North has prompted the US to move its advanced missile defense system to its base on the Pacific Ocean island of Guam along with radar systems. It has yet to be confirmed whether the missile is carrying a warhead, but sources forecast that Pyongyang is likely to fire it around April 15, when North Koreans celebrate the birthday of the North's founder, Kim Il-sung. The North has yet to conduct a test firing of a Musudan missile. In the wake of Pyongyang's threats to strike the US in recent weeks, the Pentagon on Wednesday announced its plan to deploy a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System, an advanced ballistic missile defense system, to Guam in the coming weeks as a "precautionary move" to bolster its defense posture.

In response the US move, the North Korean army said Thursday it had final approval to launch "merciless" military strikes on the US. In a statement published by the official Korean Central News Agency, the General Staff of the Korean People's Army said it was formally informing Washington that reckless US threats would be hit by "cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means." (end) KUNA 041432 Apr 13NNNN

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Publication:Kuwait News Agency (KUNA)
Date:Apr 4, 2013
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