North Korea Says it Has Been Practicing to Blow up South Korean Airports

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at an official meeting. (Kcna/Reuters)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at an official meeting. (Kcna/Reuters)

North Korea said Wednesday that it practiced trying to blow up South Korean ports and airports with nuclear warheads during its most recent ballistic missile launches, the latest sign of Pyongyang’s anger over attempts to contain it.

North Korea launched three missiles — two short-range Scuds and one medium-range Rodong — from a launch site south of Pyongyang early Tuesday. They flew about 350 miles across the peninsula to land in the sea off the eastern coast, and South Korean military officials said the missiles had the potential to hit even the southernmost parts of their country.

The launches were part of a drill overseen by Kim Jong Un, the third-generation leader of North Korea who bears the official title of “Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army.”

The drill rehearsed “making preemptive strikes at ports and airfields in the operational theater in South Korea, where the U.S. imperialists’ nuclear war hardware is to be hurled,” the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said Wednesday.

In response to the North’s provocations this year — a nuclear test in January and the steady stream of missiles that have followed it — South Korea has agreed to host a sophisticated antimissile system despite strong objections from China, a key trading partner.

The United States and South Korea this month finalized the details fordeploying a terminal high-altitude area defense (THAAD) battery to South Korea that would be operated by U.S. forces stationed there. It is designed to intercept incoming missiles.

Han Min-goo, the South’s defense minister, told lawmakers in an emergency session Tuesday afternoon that the North’s missiles constituted a “sort of protest” against the planned THAAD deployment.

The decision also has been controversial in South Korea, particularly in the rural area of Seongju, which has been chosen as the site for the battery. Residents pelted the South Korean prime minister with eggs last week when he visited the area, about 130 miles southeast of Seoul, to try to alleviate their concerns that they would become a target for North Korea.

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SOURCE: Anna Fifield 
The Washington Post