So it continues. North Korea prolonged its apparent mission to alienate itself from the entire world by testing another short-range missile off its east coast Friday, the sixth launch in just a few days. Also, vehicular activity was seen at a long-range ballistic missile site north of Pyongyang, which could suggest an impending test, CNN reports.
On Thursday, the U.S. and South Korea elevated surveillance levels to their second-highest, just as they did when North Korea conducted their first underground nuclear test in 2006. The U.S. says it currently has no plans to bolster its forces in South Korea from the present tally of 28,000.
South Korean officials say the alert system, known as “Defcon” was not elevated after Friday’s firing. They did however say they would strengthen certain task forces that monitor the North’s activity.
“Additional intelligence assets, including personnel, will be deployed while reconnaissance operations over North Korea will increase,” said South Korean defense spokesman Won Tae-jae, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
Activity was also seen at the Yongbyon nuclear facility, according to South Korean officials. Troubling since in 2008, North Korea stated it had enough weapons-grade plutonium for seven atomic bombs, CNN reports.
As military along the South-North Korean border continue to sweat, North Korea has warned the world of “self-defense” measures if the UN Security Council decides to impose sanctions on the impoverished country.
“If the UN Security Council provokes us, our additional self-defense measures will be inevitable,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, the BBC reports.
In a response to increased tensions between the South and North, their bordering peninsula in the Yellow sea has seen the withdrawal of Chinese fishing boats. The boats normally operate near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a UN-declared border line in the sea that the North refuses to recognize as the limit of their land ownership, and were seen leaving the area this week. Nearly 280 boats fish near the NLL for crab each year, and this year, that number has dropped to about 140, reports the BBC.
There promises to be more developments in the near future, so stick with Blast for ongoing coverage and check out the Terra blog for some analysis.