South Korea fires warning shots at suspected drone from North

Nick Mcbride
May 25, 2017

The North followed up with a weekend test-launch and declared Monday that it is ready to start mass-producing the new medium-range ballistic missile which it said is capable of reaching Japan and major USA military bases there.

The South Korean military did not say if the unidentified object was hit by the warning shots on Tuesday, but it disappeared from military radar.

The military did not indicate whether the object had been shot down, or had gone back over the border, one of the most heavily-fortified locations in the world.

According to Yonhap News, South Korea's military also said that the missile would not be able to reach Guam, which serves as a refueling hub for US military operations located in East Asia. "We have to actually address the vulnerabilities we have here in the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and find ways to lessen that vulnerability".

North Korea's new intermediate-range ballistic missile was successfully tested on Sunday and should now be "rapidly" mass-produced, Kim Jong-un, the country's supreme leader has said, according to state media.

"In March and April 2014, small-sized drones believed to be from North Korea were found" in Paju, an island near the western sea border and the city of Samcheok, the report said.

South Korea held a National Security Council meeting after the launch, which its Foreign Ministry said "throws cold water" on efforts to ease tensions on the peninsula.

North Korea has developed its nuclear and ballistic missile programs despite heavy worldwide sanctions already in place, and Chinese firms are among those alleged to help North Korea evade import bans and other measures meant to starve those programs.

To reduce tensions on the Korean peninsula, it demanded that Pyongyang halt nuclear and missile tests.

China on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) took a swipe at the United States, saying there was "no reason" to refuse dialogue with North Korea despite a string of missile tests strongly condemned by the UN Security Council.

It's not the first time South Korea has reacted to an object sent across its border. "We have a lot of firepower, more than he has, times 20 - but we don't want to use it", the USA leader said, citing "two nuclear submarines" the Pentagon sent to the area last month.

The country has now scrambled a huge air surveillance response as it prepares for further North Korean aggression.

In a similar incident on January 16, a year ago South Korea fired at a suspected North Korea drone at the demilitarized zone.

"North Korea has no apparent interest in reconciliation with the new [South Korean] government, or in showing any diplomatic flexibility at all", Jonathan Pollack of the Brookings Institution's Center for East Asia Policy Studies told VOA's Korean service.

Other reports by VgToday

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