Report: N. Korea building missile bases targeting Japan, US troops

S. Korean think tank believes North might be moving to deploy long-range missile tested last month.

n korean missiles 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
n korean missiles 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
North Korea is building new bases on its east coast, possibly to deploy ballistic missiles targeting Japan and US military forces based there, a state-run South Korean think tank said. The move could involve plans to deploy the long-range Taepodong-2 missile that the North test-fired last month, the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security said in a report seen Thursday by The Associated Press. The communist nation is also believed to have obtained Chinese technology via Iran in developing the Taepodong-2, its newest long-range missile believed capable of reaching the US, said the Institute of Foreign Affairs and National Security in a report seen Thursday by The Associated Press. "New underground missile bases have been built or are under construction around the border with China and along the east coast," the report said. Those "on the east coast could be seen as bases for medium- or long-range missiles targeting Japan and US military bases in Japan," it said. Taepodong-2 and also SSN-6 missiles, which have a range of up to 4,000 kilometers (2,500 miles), could be deployed to the new bases, the think tank said. The report dated July 26 didn't give a source for the information. Its main author, Yun Deok-min, wasn't reachable for comment. Missile exports have been a major source of hard currency for North Korea. The report said the North makes US$150 million a year from missile exports. Buyers of North Korean missiles include Iran, Libya, Syria, Egypt and Yemen, according to the report. "North Korea is at the center of global ballistic missile proliferation," it said. Since North Korea test-launched the shorter-range Taepodong-1 rocket over Japan in 1998, Pyonyang's missile program has been regarded as a major security issue in Northeast Asia, adding to concerns about the hardline regime's pursuit of nuclear bombs. Tensions flared anew as the communist regime test-fired seven missiles on July 5 toward Japan, including one Taepodong-2. The missiles landed in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan and the Taepodong-2 failed right after launch. The tests drew widespread international condemnation. Japan led efforts to press the U.N. Security Council to adopt a resolution denouncing the launches and banning countries from trading with North Korea in missiles or missile-related technologies. North Korea claims the tests were its sovereign right as part of a routine military exercise. The report said North Korea closely cooperated with Iran in developing the Taepodong-2 missile and there is a high possibility of Chinese design and technology being used for the development as Iran has cooperative relations with China in defense industry. It also said the North has a Scud missile base just 50 kilometers north of the border with South Korea that can hit targets deep in the South.