S. Korea on high alert over further N. Korean provocations

February 8, 2016

SEOUL (Yonhap) — South Korea’s presidential office said Monday it is on high alert for any signs of additional provocations by North Korea in the wake of the country’s long-range rocket launch a day earlier.

North Korea fired a long-range rocket carrying what it called an Earth observation satellite Sunday, a move that Seoul and Washington view as a cover for testing an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Cheong Wa Dae said that President Park Geun-hye has been briefed by her aides on signs of additional provocations by North Korea, though she had no official schedule on Lunar New Year’s Day.

Park has also checked the South Korean military’s readiness to counter any provocation by the North, it said.

Earlier in the day, a North Korean patrol boat trespassed across the maritime border in the Yellow Sea, widely known as the Northern Limit Line (NLL). The vessel retreated northward about 20 minutes after the South’s Navy fired five rounds of warning shots at it.

“Security of South Korea and its people is exposed to threats as nobody knows how North Korea will make reckless provocations,” Park said Sunday at a meeting of the National Security Council.

In response to the North’s rocket launch, South Korea and the United States announced Sunday that they’ve agreed to begin talks over the “earliest possible” deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system, named the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, on South Korean soil.

The government also said it will expand its psychological warfare of anti-North Korean loudspeaker broadcasts, a tactic that irritates North Korea. Seoul has resumed its loudspeaker campaign since the North conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6.

Also Monday, a parliamentary committee on foreign affairs held a meeting to discuss how to respond to North Korea’s long-range missile launch, briefed by ranking government officials.

Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo told lawmakers that the government is considering taking steps against the North to make it face “bone-numbing” consequences.

Lawmakers are widely expected to review a resolution condemning North Korea’s rocket launch and its nuke test, it said.

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