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South Korean defense ministry says North's missile launch timed to coincide with Korea-U.S. drills

Updated: 2014-03-02 14:08:36 KST
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The South Korean Defense Ministry said Friday that North Korea's latest missile launch seems to have been planned to coincide with the start of Seoul's annual military drills with Washington.
The ministry said the North had fired four projectiles, which, considering their speed and direction, are presumed to have been short-range Scud missiles.
This is the North's first scud missile launch in five years.
The launch also follows an incursion by a patrol boat over the de facto maritime border between the two countries on Monday, which the Seoul's defense minister said at the time was sent "to test the South Korean military."
The ministry said the South Korean military is prepared for any provocations from the North.
Just hours before the launch, Seoul had proposed a round of Red Cross talks to resolve humanitarian issues, including reunions for families separated by the Korean War.
Seoul's Unification Ministry said on Friday that it is looking to see if the launch would affect inter-Korean relations and the talks that are expected to be held as early as next week.
On top of that, a private organization had recently offered to send supplies and food aid to the North worth nearly 180 thousand U.S. dollars.

With the recent improvement of inter-Korean relations, some experts believe the North executed the launch to gain some leverage during negotiations between the two Koreas.
Other experts believe that this was a protest against the strong condemnation of the North's nuclear program and human rights violations by U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry.
Either way, the South Korean government is keeping a close eye on the situation and plans to set up countermeasures against future provocations.
Kim Hyun-bin, Arirang News.


Reporter : hyunbin@arirang.co.kr

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