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Tuesday, July 7, 2009      

Report: North Korea tested, plans to market new, extended range Scud

LONDON — North Korea was believed to have developed an extended-range Scud-class ballistic missile expected to be offered to Middle East militaries.   

A leading South Korean newspaper said Pyongyang has developed and fired the so-called Scud-ER missile, with a range of up to 1,000 kilometers. The newspaper, Chosun Ilbo, reported that three of these Scuds were test-fired on July 4, Middle East Newsline reported.

"The new Scud-ER with a range of 1,000 kilometers is considered a particular threat to Japan because it is an improved version of the conventional Scuds with longer range and greater accuracy," Chosun Ilbo said on July 6.

Chosun Ilbo, citing intelligence sources in South Korea and the United States, reported that the new Scud was also more accurate than its predecessors. The newspaper did not elaborate, but a South Korean source said the circle error of probability of the new Scud was about 500 meters.

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North Korea has been a leading supplier of ballistic missiles to the Middle East. Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen have been clients of Pyongyang's missile industry. Iran's Shihab-3 intermediate-range missile was said to have been derived from the Scud.

On July 7, a North Korean ship believed to be carrying ballistic missiles to a foreign client was said to have returned to the North Korean port of Nampo under the threat of being stopped and searched by the U.S. Navy. In June 2009, the United Nations Security Council approved sanctions that would have enabled the interdiction of North Korean ships with suspected missile and weapons of mass destruction cargo.

The South Korean newspaper said Pyongyang also fired two Scud C missiles, acquired by Syria. Scud C was said to have a range of 500 kilometers.

"We assume that the missiles North Korea fired are two Scud-C missiles with a range of 500 kilometers and two Rodong missiles with a range of 1,300 kilometers — two types that were known already — plus three Scud extended-range missiles, no details of which were known here," a South Korean Defense Ministry source said.

The South Korean government has confirmed most of the report in Chosun Ilbo. South Korea's Defense Ministry spokesman Won Tae-jae said Pyongyang proved enhanced missile accuracy in the recent tests.

The Scud, designed by the Soviet Union, has been described as a single-stage, liquid fuel missile. Iraq was the first to extend the range of the Scud B from 250 kilometers to 600 kilometers.

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