LONDON Ñ North Korea is preparing to launch its new Taepo
Dong-2 in the country's first major missile test in nearly five years.
Western diplomatic sources said Pyongyang has taken preparations for an
intermediate-range test in the Sea of Japan over the next few days. They
said North Korea has closed off an area in the sea for the preparations.
"We are aware that they are preparing to fire a missile, probably
between this weekend and early next week," a South Korean Defense Ministry
spokesman said on Saturday.
On Feb. 24, North Korea fired a short-range anti-ship cruise missile
into the Sea of Japan. The sources said U.S. spy photographs of the test
determined that the test was a failure.
South Korean Defense Minister Cho Young-kil told a parliamentary
committee on Friday that the surface-to-air missile struck the water about
110 kilometers from its point of launch, off the coast of South Hamkyong
Province. The missile was estimated to have a total range of 160
"The test is thought to have failed due to defects in the guided
missile," Cho said in a report to the committee on Friday.
In 1998, North Korea fired the Taepo Dong-1 missile over Japan. The
missile was later marketed to such Middle East clients as Iran and Libya.