April 15, 2013
South Korea’s defense chief said Monday that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) is seen ready to launch missiles, but he noted that there are no signs of a full-scale war.
“(The military) is trailing (the DPRK’s possible missile launch) as the launch is seen ready,” Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told lawmakers at a parliamentary defense committee. “(The DPRK’s) military parade is estimated (to be staged around April 15).”
His comments came amid rising expectations for the DPRK to launch missiles around April 15 when Pyongyang celebrates the birthday of Kim Il-sung, the DPRK’s founder and the late grandfather of the current leader Kim Jung-un.
Pyongyang was believed to have moved intermediate-range missiles, estimated to be Musudan, to its east coast. Other missiles, including Scud and Nodong, were also believed to be mounted on mobile launchers known as the transporter-erector- launcher (TEL).
The Musudan is estimated to have a range of about 3,500 km and can reach the U.S. military base in Guam. The Scud is estimated to have a range of between 300 and 500 km, with the range for Nodong estimated at 1,300-1,500 km.
Minister Kim said there have been no signs of the DPRK waging a full-scale war, but he noted that the military is preparing for the local provocation that could happen “at any time.”
Meanwhile, the defense ministry spokesman said at a press briefing that Pyongyang can fire off missiles at any moment when the political decision is made, but he noted that deadlock over the DPRK’s missile launch can be lengthened.
Minister Kim reiterated his stance that the military “will strongly and sternly respond” to the possible provocation by the DPRK, but he urged Pyongyang to make efforts to solve the problem on the Korean Peninsula by coming to the negotiating table.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Thursday that Seoul will push for dialogue with the DPRK. On the same day, Unification Minister Ryoo Kihl-jae said in a statement that the normalization of the Kaesong complex should be made through dialogue, urging Pyongyang to “come to the dialogue table.”
On Sunday, a spokesman at the DPRK’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea denounced Seoul’s dialogue overtures as ” cunning ploy.” The committee’s spokesman described the dialogue offer as a “blushless act,” saying that South Korea has offered no apology for “past crimes,” such as the joint military drills between Seoul and Washington.