North Korea fuels ballistic missile, ready for launch
Earlier, Japanese military sources reported detecting up to seven mobile units mounted with various range ballistic missiles on the North Korean coast.
Meanwhile, the South Korean government has appealed to Russia and China to their influence with North Korea for defusing tensions on the Korean peninsula.
The South Korean Defence Ministry has said that several more missiles of shorter ranger, Scud and Nodong, are ready for launch in the same area in Kangwon Province.
Musudan missiles can reach Japan and the US Pacific island of Guam. The North Korean mass media have thus far failed to make any mention of a likely missile launch.
The media in North Korea is instead focused on preparations for the main national holiday, - Kim Il Sung’s birthday, that’s due to be widely celebrated on April 15th . Foreign Embassies and international organization offices continue working in Pyongyang as usual.
Up to seven mobile units with ballistic missiles of various range, from 300 km to over 3,000 km have been detected on the east coast of North Korea. They can be launched simultaneously or in succession over several days, starting from today, military sources said in Tokyo.
Besides the two mobile launchers with medium-range Musudan missiles detected on the east coast of the country, missile units have been moved to the coast of Hamgyong Province in the northeast of the country, with “Scud” ballistic missiles with a range of up to 500 km, and “Nodong” missiles with a 1.3 thousand kilometer range mounted on about five mobile launchers.
A key border crossing between North Korea and China been closed to tourist groups, a Chinese official said Wednesday as nuclear tensions mounted, but business travel was allowed to continue.
An official at the Dandong Border Office, who declined to give his name, told AFP: "Travel agencies are not allowed to take tourist groups to go there, since the North Korean government is now asking foreign people to leave. As far as I know, business people can enter and leave North Korea freely."
Earlier, Pyongyang advised all foreigners to “consider leaving South Korea”, warning that the Korean peninsula was headed for "thermo-nuclear" war.
An AFP photographer at the border on Wednesday saw cars and a larger vehicle passing over the bridge crossing the Yalu River that marks the frontier, in both directions.
China is North Korea's sole major ally and the provider of the vast majority of its trade and aid, with most of the business passing through Dandong.
The U.S. administration says that based on recent intelligence it's likely North Korea may test fire mobile ballistic missiles at any time, reports CNN. Earlier it was announced that a missile might be launched in the direction of Japan. Pyongyang has most probably completed launch preparations, said a U.S. official Tuesday.
Most of the information comes from satellite imagery, so it's impossible to reach a definitive conclusion because the U.S. has no means to gather information on the ground.
On Tuesday Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, confirmed that Pyongyang had loaded a medium-range ballistic missile onto mobile launchers at an "unidentified" facility near the east coast.
He said the Pentagon would shoot down such a missile if its calculated flight trajectory would be potentially threatening for the U.S. or its allies.
Meanwhile, South Korea does not exclude the likelihood that North Korea might test-launch several such missiles from a number of diverse facilities in the country.
Moscow will seek to normalize the situation on the Korean peninsula, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. "We are confident that the situation is serious. Nuclear tests and missile launches are not jokes."
However, the rhetoric also plays as just harmful role because mutual accusations, threats and warnings might reach a critical level when people drive themselves into a corner, and they will have to show something to the public opinion, Lavrov said in an interview with RTVi TV channel.
He urged not to escalate emotions over the situation linked with North Korea and diplomatically try to reach an agreement on the resumption of six-country talks.
At present, Russia is working with other countries of the group of six, Lavrov said.
Earlier this month, North Korea nullified Armistice with South Korea.
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