By Barbara Starr and Tom Cohen. Recent announcements of American military deployments in response to belligerent statements by North Korea may have contributed to escalating tensions between the two countries, Pentagon officials told CNN on Thursday in explaining an effort to reduce U.S. rhetoric about the reclusive state.
“We accused the North Koreans of amping things up, now we are worried we did the same thing,” one Defense Department official said.
They spoke on the same day a U.S. official first told CNN that communications intercepts indicated North Korea may be planning to launch a mobile ballistic missile in the coming days or weeks.
Classified images and communications intercepts show that North Korea has moved up to two mobile missiles, launchers and fuel tanks to its East coast, another American official with knowledge of the matter told CNN.
South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told a parliamentary committee in Seoul that the activity signaled an imminent test firing or military drill, according to the semi-official South Korean news agency Yonhap. Read more from this story HERE.
US chemical battalion in South Korea
By PressTV. The United States has deployed a battalion equipped to deal with nuclear, biological and chemical attacks in South Korea after North Korea threatened to attack the US with ‘nuclear weapons.’
Reports say about 250 soldiers from the US Army 23rd chemical battalion have returned to South Korea. The troops are stationed at Camp Stanley in Uijeongbu, north of Seoul.
Meanwhile, North Korea’s Committee for Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) has said that the deployment is a revelation of the criminal attempt of the United States to impose nuclear disasters on the Korean nation.
“During the Korean War, the US indiscriminately used germ and chemical weapons against the Korean people, stunning the world,” the CPRK stated on Wednesday. “The US now seeks to make such crimes against humanity repeat.”
War of words escalated between Washington and Pyongyang after the participation of nuclear-capable US B-52s and B-2 stealth bombers in the United States’ joint military drills with South Korea. Read more from this story HERE.
Amid Pyongyang bluster, missile launch feared
By Jethro Mullen, Barbara Starr and Joe Sterling. Missile and launch components have been moved to the east coast of North Korea in the “last few days,” a U.S. official with direct knowledge of the information told CNN Thursday.
The apparent deployment comes amid further threatening statements by North Korea and heightened tensions in the region — a situation that “does not need to get hotter,” a U.S. State Department spokeswoman said.
The move of the missile and launch equipment could mean that Pyongyang, which unleashed another round of scathing rhetoric accusing the United States of pushing the region to the “brink of war,” may be planning a missile launch soon.
The components, the official said, are consistent with those of a Musudan missile, which has a 2,500-mile range, meaning it could threaten South Korea, Japan and Southeast Asia.
The United States has been looking for a hidden North Korean east coast launch site or mobile launchers, a concern because a launch from the east coast would go over Japan, the official said. Read more from this story HERE.