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اتوار، 28 نومبر، 2010

N Korea deploys surface-to-air missiles near borders

The Korean Peninsula seems to be on the brink of war as reports indicate North Korea has deployed surface-to-air missiles near its disputed Yellow Sea border with the South.

Referring to the Yellow Sea border, a South Korean official said on condition of anonymity "The missiles appear to be targeting our fighter jets that fly near the Northern Limit Line (NLL)."

According to AFP quoting the report, the North has deployed the Soviet-designed SA-2 missiles that have a range of between 13 and 30 kilometers.

The South Korean sources also report that the North has deployed Samlet and surface-to-surface Silkworm missiles as well on its western coast with ranges of up to 95 km.

The situation has grown more tense after South Korea began long-planned joint naval exercises with the US in the region that include the participation of nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS George Washington.

The US and South Korea on Sunday began new, pre-arranged military exercises in the Yellow Sea, about 125km (77 miles) south of the disputed maritime border between the two Koreas.

The aircraft carrier the USS George Washington and four other US navy vessels are being joined by South Korean destroyers, patrol vessels, frigates, support ships and anti-submarine aircraft.

Shortly after the exercises began, North Korea again vowed to hit back if its waters were violated.

"We will deliver a brutal military blow on any provocation which violates our territorial waters," the North's state-controlled KCNA news agency said.

Yonhap reported that Pyongyang had placed surface-to-surface missiles on launch pads in the Yellow Sea and had also moved surface-to-air missiles to frontline areas, but the South's defence ministry could not confirm the deployment.

Residents of Yeonpyeong were ordered to shelter in bunkers when artillery fire was heard on Sunday, but the order was lifted 40 minutes later. Only about 20 of the 1,700 residents remain on the island.

The South Korean defence ministry has also now instructed journalists to leave by the end of Sunday as it cannot guarantee their safety.

"At this stage, it is unpredictable what kind of a provocative action North Korea will take using the South Korean-US joint drills as a justification," the ministry said.

Yonhap also reported that South Korean troops on Sunday accidentally fired an artillery round into the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) that divides the nations. Seoul quickly sent the North a message saying it was an accident, the news agency said.

Earlier, Mr Dai had told President Lee that Beijing would try to prevent the situation deteriorating any further.

Mr Lee had urged China to take what he called a more fair and responsible position on the relationship between the two Koreas.

The chairman of North Korea's parliament, an official known to be a close confidant of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, has been invited to visit Beijing next week.
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