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Nth Korea moves forward missile deployment along border: report

Source: SMH|Published: Sunday April 1, 3:50 PM

North Korea has moved forward the deployment of its ground-to-air missiles along the border with South Korea, prompting a close watch from South Korea, reports said today.

The advance deployment of North Korea's "SA-2 missile units" along the border came on the heels of the communist country's anti-US tirade, said the South's Yonhap news agency.

An unnamed South Korean government official told Yonhap: "We are closely watching the advance development of North Korean missiles along the demilitarised zone (DMZ)."

The DMZ, which divides the Korean peninsula, has been heavily militarised since the 1950-53 Korean War was ended by a fragile armistice.

"The reason is not clear. But we believe the North's military movement might have been linked to its propaganda war against the United States," he was quoted as saying.

North Korea has made angry attacks on the United States since President George W Bush took office in January and effectively froze contacts with the communist state.

But Pyongyang has generally eased its propaganda war against the rival South since a historic summit between their leaders last June.

North Korea pulled out of ministerial talks in March and last week cancelled a planned joint team at the world table tennis championships in Japan later this month.

General Thomas Schwartz, commander of US troops in South Korea, said last week in Washington that the North had stepped up military drills since last June's summit.

"The (military) threat is more serious today than it was last year when I testified," Schwartz told a US Senate committee.

North Korea was "bigger, better, closer, deadlier", its armed forces were training at a higher level and it continued to sell missiles abroad, he said, opposing a reduction of the 37,000 US forces on the Korean peninsula.

The North has accused the US general of betraying "the US criminal intention to chill the atmosphere for reconciliation on the Korean peninsula and strain the situation there".


-- Martin Thompson (, April 01, 2001

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