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N. Korea ratchets up protest against S. Korea-U.S. drills with more missile launches Updated: 2014-03-05 11:57:58 KST

  N. Korea ratchets up protest against S. Korea-U.S. drills with more missile launches
We begin with the latest on North Korea's binge of missile firings
On Tuesday, Pyongyang launched several projectiles into the East Sea in another sign of its apparent protest against the ongoing South Korea-U.S. joint military drills.
We now connect live to our Kim Hyun-bin , at Seoul's Defense Ministry for the latest.
Hyun-bin, why is North Korea doing these test-firings now?
It seemed as though inter Korean relations were improving recently.

Well, it appears North Korea is disgruntled over Seoul and Washington's annual joint military drills that are going on as we speak.
The Defense Ministry said on Wednesday that Tuesday's rocket launch was a violation of the UN Security Council resolution as it was not previously notified and put in jeopardy a Chinese commercial airline flying through in North Korean airspace.
South Korea's Defense Ministry spokesperson Kim Min-seok labeled Tuesday's launches as explicit acts of aggression against the ongoing drills, adding that Seoul is keeping a close watch on the possibility of additional provocations to come.
Pyongyang blasted Washington on Tuesday for deploying a nuclear-powered submarine to South Korea's southernmost port city of Busan as part of the drills.
The regime is highly opposed to these exercises in general and usually launches provocations of some sort or hits out with harsh rhetoric against the South and the U.S.

How much of a threat to South Korea are North Korea's multiple rocket launchers and heavy artillery?

Well, it poses a very serious and real threat.
North Korea's artillery power is ranked third in the world behind only Russia and China.
The regime's rocket launchers are often mounted on trucks so they can be mobilized and moved quickly, making them harder to track.
According to military sources in South Korea on Wednesday, the North has around 1-hundred of these short-range KN-02 ballistic missiles.
These missiles can load up to 400 kilograms of explosives and chemical weapons, while launching dozens of missiles in minutes.
The KN-02 has a maximum range of 170 kilometers and can hit a target at that distance in less than four minutes, posing a huge threat to the Seoul metropolitan area.
It is thought that 30 KN-02 missiles are mounted on mobile launch pads and have Seoul in their crosshairs.
North Korea has recently developed the multiple rocket launcher called the KN-09, which is presumed to have a target distance of 200 kilometers.
That means that missiles shot from the border could reach Gyeryongdae where the joint military bases of South Korea's Army, Air Force and Navy headquarters are located.

And Hyun-bin, how is the international community, especially the United States, reacting to the recent provocations?

The Pentagon said Tuesday in its latest strategy document that North Korea poses a growing threat to the United States because of its pursuit of long-range missiles and nuclear weapons development.
It described the regime as "closed and authoritarian."
The Defense Department said the U.S. military would keep up its investment in missile defense while maintaining a major presence in the region.

Ok, Hyun-bin. Thanks for your report. That was our Kim Hyun-bin reporting from the Defense Ministry.
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