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People's Daily Online

S.Korea closely watching possible DPRK long-range missile launch

People's Daily Online

(Xinhua) 14:54, January 28, 2016

SEOUL, Jan. 28 -- South Korea's defense ministry said Thursday that it is closely watching a possible test-launch by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) of its long-range ballistic missile after its nuclear test earlier this month.

Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told a regular press briefing that if the DPRK conducts any significant provocations going forward, there is a possibility for it to happen all of a sudden.

Kim said that South Korea's military continues to closely monitor and watch any signs of Pyongyang's long-range ballistic missile launch.

His comments came after Japan's Kyodo News reported that Pyongyang may be preparing to test-fire long-range ballistic missile, citing a Japanese government official who offered the recent satellite imagery as the signals.

Pyongyang had test-fired long-range ballistic missiles months before or after its previous atomic bomb tests. Two months before its third nuclear detonation in February 2013, the DPRK put a satellite into orbit with a three-stage Unha-3 rocket, which Seoul and Washington considered a ballistic missile.

The DPRK is banned from test-firing any rockets based on a ballistic missile technology under UN Security Council resolutions. Worries emerged about Pyongyang's another ballistic missile launch after it claimed on Jan. 6 that it had successfully tested its first hydrogen bomb.

Kim acknowledged a possibility for Pyongyang's missile launch under the situation that both South Korea and the United State catch no signs in advance.

The DPRK had covered the roof of a launch pad for rockets with screens at its main rocket base at Tonchang-ri in the northwest region, where the latest ballistic missile launch occurred. It was presumably aimed to hide possible preparations for another rocket launch. The height of the launch tower was raised from 50 meters to 67 meters in 2015.

The spokesman said that the DPRK hasn't issued any no-sail, no-navigation zone, considered one of many signals that Pyongyang is preparing to launch a long-range missile.

He noted that Pyongyang's long-range missile launch is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions and poses a significant threat to the world's peace and stability.

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