Friday, March 04, 2016

DPRK Fires Short-range Projectiles Off East Coast
Missile or rocket launch may be response to UNSC Resolution, U.S. sanctions

John G. Grisafi
March 3rd, 2016

North Korea launched several short-range projectiles into the sea from its east coast Thursday morning, South Korean media reported, citing military sources.

The North Korean military fired six projectiles about 100-150 kilometers into the Sea of Japan (known in Korea as the East Sea) from somewhere near the east coast port city of Wonsan at around 10 am Thursday morning, South Korea time.

It is not yet known what type of projectile was fired, but it was likely either some type short-range ballistic missile – such as Scuds or Rodongs – or artillery rockets from a multiple rocket launcher (MRL), including possibly the North’s 300mm MRL, first publicly shown in a parade last October. The 300mm MRLs seen in October carried eight launch tubes each, so a single 300mm MRL could have been capable of conducting this morning’s launch.

This launch may be North Korea’s response to yesterday’s resolution by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) and updated sanctions by the United States. The UNSC unanimously adopted Resolution 2270 against North Korea in response to the country’s fourth nuclear test and recent satellite launch. Additionally, the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control expanded its sanctions on North Korea to cover more entities – such as the National Defense Commission and Central Military Commission – and individuals – including Hwang Pyong So.

Kwon Ki-hyun, spokesperson for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense, confirmed the reports, though indicated a lower number of projectiles – six – than the 8-9 initially reported by South Korean media.

“North Korea has launched six rounds of short range projectiles from Wonsan region. The range of them is from 100 km to 150km,” Kwon told NK News.

Kwon also indicated the South’s military is maintaining vigilance.

“We are keeping eyes on North Korean movements and have reinforced the military readiness posture. No signs of other provocations were seen,” said Kwon.

A civilian military adviser working between South Korea and international authorities said the launch was most likely North Korea’s way of protesting the recently passed sanctions.

“If they have launched something that was bigger and had longer range, it might have put North Korea between a rock and a hard place like last year August’s ROK-US joint training,” he told NK News, on condition of anonymity. “Such provocations would only agitate the U.S. and bring more and bigger troops in the upcoming Key Resolve to counter North Korea.”

JH Ahn contributed to this report.


John G. Grisafi

John G. Grisafi is an analyst and Korean linguist from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Having previously worked as an analyst for the United States Army in South Korea and studied Korean at the Defense Language Institute, he is now majoring in East Asian Studies at the University of Pennsylvania.

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