Seoul, May 17 (IANS/RIA Novosti) North Korea may have up to 200 mobile missile launchers, or twice the number previously estimated by South Korea’s authorities, South Korean media reported Friday.
South Korea’s state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses (KIDA) said that in line with a report submitted to the US Congress by the Pentagon, North Korea has probably accumulated up to 200 so-called transporter erector launchers (TEL), including up to 100 for short-range Scud missiles, 50 for medium-range Nodong missiles and 50 for long-range Musudan missiles, the Yonhap news agency reported.
Previously Seoul estimated that the reclusive communist state, known officially as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), appeared to possess no more than 94 mobile launchers.
“The US report shows that North Korea is bent on expanding its missile program despite its continued economic difficulties. It is especially focused on certain asymmetric areas that can pose a threat to South Korea and US forces stationed in the South,” KIDA researcher Kim Sung-kurl was quoted as saying.
Tensions have risen sharply on the Korean Peninsula since December, when North Korea tested a long-range Taepodong 2 missile, followed in February 2013 by its third nuclear test.
The UN responded with sanctions. The start of recent joint military exercises between South Korea and the US further irritated the North, which threatened to carry out a nuclear attack on the US mainland, as well as on US forces in the region.