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US concerned about North Korean activities in Nepal
IANS/Kathmandu
June 16, 2019
View attachment 8175
UN has imposed a number of sanctions on North Korea after the country started developing nuclear weapons.

Amidst reports of growing activities of North Koreans in Nepal, Mark Lambert, the special US envoy for Pyongyang, has asked the Himalayan nation's government and politicians not to entertain North Koreans in the country.

Lambert, who is on a three-day visit to Nepal, made this appeal to lawmakers, senior government officials and ruling Nepal Communist Party (NCP) co-chair Pushpa Kamal Dahal here on Friday, reports The Himalayan Times.

The envoy expressed concerns about growing business activities of North Koreans in Nepal.
"He also expressed fear that North Koreans might have been using Nepal as a base to commit cyber crimes," a lawmaker, who met Lambert, said.

Lambert's message during these meetings was clear - the UN Security Council has placed sanctions on North Korea, and Nepal, as a member country, should respect this decision.

The UN has imposed a number of sanctions on North Korea after the country started developing nuclear weapons, in violation of the UN charter. These sanctions, among others, bar UN member countries from hosting citizens of North Korea.
"Nepal is a member of the UN and it has the obligation to follow resolutions passed by the UN Security Council," said US Embassy Spokesperson Andie De Arment, who confirmed that Lambert was in Nepal to discuss growing activities of North Koreans in the country.

Earlier, US Secretary of State Mike Pampeo had also raised the North Korean issue during Foreign Minister Pradeep Kumar Gyawali's visit to the US last December.

 

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North Korea accuses Pompeo of 'sophistry' after sanctions remark
JUNE 26, 2019
By Elizabeth Shim

View attachment 8574
North Korea condemned recent remarks on sanctions from U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo (L) made on Sunday. Here he meets with Kim Jong Un in 208. File Photo by White House | License Photo


June 26 (UPI) -- North Korea criticized the U.S. State Department on Wednesday for issuing human rights reports and targeted Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for supporting sanctions against the regime.

A Pyongyang foreign ministry representative said in the statement, ahead of Trump's trip to Japan for the G-20 summit, that the U.S. classification of North Korea as an enemy state is an obstacle to diplomacy.

"Regardless of how hard the leaders of the two sides try to establish a new relationship, it would be difficult to expect improvements, or the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, if policy makers who harbor hostile sentiments control U.S. politics," the North Korean representative said.

North Korea also referred to a statement from Pompeo.

The top U.S. diplomat had said on Sunday it is important to remember some 80-plus percent of the North Korean economy is sanctioned; on Wednesday, North Korea said Pompeo was "engaging in sophistry," while suggesting sanctions would not bring Pyongyang back to the table.
"If at present U.S. sanctions affect 80 percent of our economy, is the goal of the United States to raise that level to 100 percent?"

Pyongyang also said Pompeo's remarks contradict the contents of the U.S.-North Korea joint statement signed in Singapore in 2018.

Kim Dong-yub, a professor at the Institute for Far Eastern Studies at Kyungnam University in South Korea, told South Korean news agency Newsis North Korea could be expressing displeasure with recent summit results.

"From North Korea's perspective, the United States walked out of the summit in Hanoi, rendered the Singapore agreement meaningless, kept sanctions in place and even raised the issue of human rights and religion. From Pyongyang's view, it is strange to request dialogue given such conditions," Kim said.

The State Department had released reports on human trafficking and religious freedom pertaining to North Korea last week. The reports said the regime has yet to improve its poor human rights record.

Trump is visiting South Korea following the G-20 summit, but it is unconfirmed he will meet with Kim Jong Un at the border despite a recent exchange of letters.

 

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Trump says he could meet North Korea’s Kim at DMZ
By ZEKE MILLER and JONATHAN LEMIRE
29 June 2019

View attachment 8640


OSAKA, Japan (AP) — Eyeing a history-making photo opportunity, President Donald Trump on Saturday issued a Twitter invitation to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un to join him for a hand shake during a visit to the demilitarized zone with South Korea.

The invitation, while long rumored in diplomatic circles, still struck as an impulsive display of showmanship by a president bent on obtaining a legacy-defining nuclear accord. North Korea responded to offer by calling it a “very interesting suggestion.”

Presidential visits to the DMZ are traditionally treated as carefully guarded secrets for security reason. And White House officials couldn’t immediately say whether Kim had agreed to meet with Trump. The president himself claimed he wasn’t even sure Kim was in North Korea to accept the invitation.

“All I did is put out a feeler, if you’d like to meet,” Trump said later of the message to Kim. He added, somewhat implausibly, that “I just thought of it this morning.”

Trump is scheduled to fly to South Korea later Saturday after he concludes meetings at the Group of 20 summit in Osaka, Japan, including with the president of China. He told reporters during a breakfast with Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman that he would be visiting the heavily fortified area between the two Koreas.
“We’re going there,” the president said.

Shortly before the breakfast, Trump tweeted his invitation for Kim to meet him there. “If Chairman Kim of North Korea sees this, I would meet him at the Border/DMZ just to shake his hand and say Hello(?)!” he wrote.

It was not immediately clear what the agenda, if any, would be for the potential third Trump-Kim meeting. Trump predicted that, “If he’s there we’ll see each other for two minutes.” Still, such a spectacle would present a valuable propaganda victory for Kim, who, with his family, has long been denied the recognition they sought on the international stage.

Despite Trump’s comments Saturday, he had told The Hill newspaper in an interview this week that he would be visiting the DMZ and said “he might” meet with Kim. The paper reported it had withheld Trump’s comments, citing security concerns by the White House.

North Korea’s state media made no mention Saturday of a possible meeting between Trump and Kim. South Korea’s presidential Blue House said in a tweet that Trump asked South Korean President Moon Jae-in at the G20 meetings whether he’d seen Trump’s Twitter message to Kim. When Moon replied he had, Trump said ”(Let’s) try doing it” and raised his thumb, the Blue House said.

Trump’s summit with Kim in Vietnam earlier this year collapsed without an agreement for denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. He became the first sitting U.S. president to meet with the leader of the isolated nation last year in Singapore, where they signed a broad agreement to bring the North toward denuclearization.

Substantive talks between the two nations have largely broken down since then, as the North has balked at Trump’s insistence that it give up its weapons before it sees relief from crushing international sanctions.

Still, Trump has sought to publicly heap praise on Kim, who oversees an authoritarian government, in hopes of keeping the prospects of a deal alive, and the two have traded flowery letters in recent weeks.

Every president since Ronald Reagan has visited the 1953 armistice line, except for George H.W. Bush, who visited when he was vice president. The show of bravado and support for South Korea, one of America’s closest military allies, has evolved over the years to include binoculars and bomber jackets.

Trump, ever the showman, appears to be looking to one-up his predecessors with a meeting with Kim.

As he left the White House for Asia earlier this week, Trump was asked whether he’d meet with Kim while he is in the region.
“I’ll be meeting with a lot of other people ... but I may be speaking to him in a different form,” Trump said.

Such trips to the demilitarized zone, the heavily fortified border between North and South Korea, are usually undertaken under heavy security and the utmost secrecy.

Trump tried to visit the DMZ when he was in Seoul in November 2017, but his helicopter was grounded by heavy fog.

Trump has staked his self-professed deal-making reputation on his rapprochement with the North and has even turned it into a campaign rallying cry. Trump has repeatedly alleged that if he had lost the 2016 presidential campaign, the U.S. would be “at war” with North Korea over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

The meeting would come at a time of escalating tensions. While North Korea has not recently tested a long-range missile that could reach the U.S., it last month a fired off a series of short-range missiles. Trump has brushed off the significance of the tests, even as his own national security adviser, John Bolton, has said they violated U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Trump also suggested Saturday that the North was prepared to turn over additional unidentified remains of unknown American and allied service-members. At least six Americans have been identified from 55 boxes of remains delivered by the North last year after Trump’s first meeting with Kim, but the Defense Department in May
announced it was halting efforts to recover additional remains, citing a lack of cooperation from North Korea.
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Associated Press writers Hyung-jin Kim and Kim Tong-hyung in Seoul, South Korea, and Darlene Superville and Jill Colvin in Washington contributed to this report.

 

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Trump crosses into North Korea in historic meeting with Kim at DMZ
June 30, 2019
By Thomas Maresca
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U.S. President Donald Trump (L) and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un cross the Military Demarcation Line into the southern side of the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone, which separates the two Koreas, on Sunday. Trump became the first sitting U.S. president to step onto North Korean soil. Photo by Yonhap

SEOUL, June 30 (UPI) -- President Donald Trump met Kim Jong Un at the DMZ and stepped across the border into North Korea on Sunday afternoon, marking the first time a sitting U.S. president has set foot on North Korean soil.

Emerging from a scrum of security service and traveling press, Trump and Kim met at the military demarcation line, a low concrete ridge in the truce village of Panmunjom that marks the border between North and South.

They shook hands and chatted briefly before Kim invited Trump to cross into the North, where they shook hands and posed for photos.

The two then crossed to the other side of the border, where South Korean President Moon Jae-in was waiting for them.

Answering questions from reporters, Kim noted said that the meeting was an expression of Trump's willingness to "eliminate the unfortunate past" the countries share and work towards a "new future."

President Trump called stepping across the border a "great honor," and said that his personal relationship with the North Korean leader helped set the stage for the historic meeting.

"We met and we liked each other from day one, and that was very important," said Trump, who thanked Kim for agreeing to the meeting under "very quick notice."

Trump added that he "would invite [Kim] to the White House right now."

The two leaders then headed into the Freedom House on the South Korean side of Panmunjom for a private discussion, the third time the leaders have met.

Trump said Saturday that he would be willing to step across the border into North Korea if he met with Kim at the DMZ.

"I would feel very comfortable doing that," Trump said. "I would have no problem."

Panmunjom is where the armistice that halted the 1950-1953 Korean War was signed. It has yet to be replaced by a peace treaty, meaning the war has not technically ended.

Some 28,500 American troops are still stationed in South Korea and the 160-mile-long, 2.5-mile-wide DMZ remains one of the most heavily fortified areas in the world, with troops and guard stations on both sides of the border and an estimated one million landmines inside.

 

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North Korea says it's willing to talk with US, and launches projectile
By Jake Kwon and Joshua Berlinger, CNN
Updated 0933 GMT (1733 HKT) September 10, 2019

Seoul, South Korea (CNN)North Korea launched two unidentified projectiles from South Pyongan Province toward the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, on Tuesday morning, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.

The JCS said they received warnings of the twin launches at 6:53 am and 7:12 am Korean time. They are believed to have flown a maximum of 330 kilometers (205 miles).

"Our military is observing the situation and maintaining readiness," the JCS sad. A senior US administration official said the US is monitoring the situation and consulting with allies. Japan's Defense Ministry said in a statement that its territory was not threatened.

The launches happened just hours after a top North Korean diplomat working on nuclear negotiations with the United States said Pyongyang would be open to resuming talks with Washington.

The envoy, Choe Son Hui, said in a first-person statement published Monday by North Korean state media that North Korea is willing "to sit with the US side for comprehensive discussions of the issues we have so far taken up at the time and place to be agreed late in September."
"I believe that the US side will come out with a proposal geared to the interests of the DPRK and the US and based on the calculation method acceptable to us," Choe said, referring to North Korea by an acronym for the country's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

After more than a year of refraining from missile tests, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's regime has conducted 10 launches since May including Tuesday's. Most of those are believed to be short-range missiles, and experts say they have shown impressive technological advancements.

In August, two projectiles were launched. A US official confirmed then that North Korea launched short-range ballistic missiles, and said they appear to be similar to other recent launches.

The previous four rounds of launches by North Korea were believed to be short-range missile tests, which Pyongyang is barred from conducting under United Nations Security Council resolutions.

US President Donald Trump has played down the tests when speaking about North Korea publicly. At one point he referred to them as "very standard."

Trump said that Kim had only agreed to stop testing long-range ballistic missiles -- the type that can reach the US mainland -- and nuclear weapons.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Sunday that Kim hasn't yet violated his commitment to Trump, but the US is "disappointed that he is continuing to conduct these short-range tests. We wish that he would stop that."

"But our mission set at the State Department is very clear: to get back to the table, to present a mechanism by which we can deliver ... a full, completely denuclearized and verified denuclearized North Korea."

Analysts say the short-range missiles being tested threaten US troops deployed in northeast Asia and citizens living in US-allied countries like South
Korea and Japan. And weapons experts have warned that the advanced technologies being tested on the short-range missiles could eventually be applied to long-range weapons.

The missile tests also come at a time of increasing friction between Japan and South Korea, two key US allies in the region. Seoul announced last month that it would abandon a military intelligence sharing agreement, a change which former military and defense officials say will slow down decision making and make the movement of information less efficient.

In an interview with CNN's Kristie Lu Stout on Monday, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said that his country, South Korea and the US needed to form a united front in dealing with the threat from North Korea. "Right now, the major threat is coming from North Korea and I think we really need to be watertight among the US, Japan and South Korea," he said.

"And as South Korea's defense minister said, there are some countries who would be happier if this alliance or relationship falls apart. We shouldn't have that happening," he added.

CNN's Yoonjung Seo and David Culver contributed reporting


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JCS: North Korea may have fired missile from submarine
02 Oct 2019
By Yonhap News Agency

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In this 2015 photo released by North Korea's Korea Central Television, a North Korean submarine fires Pukkuksong-1. Yonhap

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North Korea fired what is believed to have been submarine-launched missiles ahead of denuclearization talks with the United States.
Photo by KCNA/UPI | License Photo


North Korea fired what was believed to be a submarine-launched ballistic missile from waters off its east coast on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, demonstrating its nuclear delivery capabilities just days before resuming denuclearization talks with the United States.

The missile, believed to be a type of Pukkuksong, a North Korean SLBM, was fired from off the east coast near Wonsan in an easterly direction at 7:11 a.m. and flew around 280 miles at a maximum altitude of about 565 miles, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The high altitude means the missile was fired at a high angle, and if it had been fired at a normal angle, it would have flown a much longer distance.

"Our military is monitoring the situation in case of additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture," the JCS said, calling on the North to stop such acts that heighten tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

South Korea's presidential National Security Council convened an emergency meeting and expressed strong concern over the launch.

U.S. Forces Korea said it is aware of the launch.

"We are aware of reports of a possible North Korean missile launch. We are continuing to monitor the situation and consulting closely with our allies in the region," USFK spokesperson Col. Lee Peters said in a statement sent to Yonhap News Agency.

If confirmed, Wednesday's launch will mark the North's first SLBM test since August 2016, when it test-fired a Pukguksong-1 ballistic missile off the east coast, which flew about 310 miles. So far this year, the North carried out missile and rocket launches 10 times, but all involved short-range projectiles.

The communist country then tested Pukguksong-2 missiles in 2017 after remodeling the original version into a ground-based one. The maximum flight range of both types was known to be around 807 miles, according to the defense ministry.

Along with its intercontinental ballistic missiles, the North's SLBM program is considered one of the biggest threats to the United States and its allies, as it could extend the range of the North's nuclear missiles and such a missile is hard to detect in advance before it emerges from the water.

It is not immediately known from which platform the missile was fired, though experts said it could be launched from a barge or its newly built submarine.

In July, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected the new submarine, calling for the development of naval armed forces to boost the country's military capabilities, according to the North's Korean Central News Agency. The communist country was known to have built a new submarine at its naval base in Sinpo on its east coast.

Intelligence authorities in South Korea said at the time that the newly constructed submarine is ready to be deployed "soon" and seems to be capable of carrying three SLBMs.

The firing came a day after the North's First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said that Pyongyang and Washington agreed to resume working-level nuclear talks this week. The two sides will have "preliminary contact" on Friday and working-level negotiations the following day, Choe said without disclosing the venue.

The U.S. State Department only said the two sides plan to "meet within the next week."

The nuclear talks have been stalled since the breakdown of the summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in Hanoi in February.

"[North Korea] appears to aim to strengthen its negotiating hand to the maximum," Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo said Wednesday during an annual parliamentary audit.

"It also appears to take into consideration multiple factors, including our military's demonstration of its latest military assets yesterday," he added.

On Tuesday, South Korea officially marked its introduction of F-35A stealth fighters for the first time during the Armed Forces Day ceremony. South Korea has so far brought in eight F-35As, beginning with two in late March, under a plan to deploy 40 fifth-generation jets through 2021.

North Korea has intensified its criticism against South Korea for the introduction of such advanced weaponry, claiming that such a military buildup is aimed at destroying North Korea, and it is in violation of last year's inter-Korean military agreement that calls for halting hostility against each other.

Following Wednesday's launch, South Korea asked Japan to share related military information under the framework of the bilateral intelligence-sharing pact, according to Seoul's defense ministry.

In August, South Korea announced its decision to terminate the pact, the General Security of Military Information Agreement, after Japan extended its export restrictions on Seoul. The agreement is set to expire in November.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a press conference earlier in the day that North Korea launched two ballistic missiles and that one of them fell into the country's exclusive economic zone.

After an 18-month hiatus, North Korea resumed its weapons tests in May. The last one took place on Sept. 10 when it is believed to have test-fired two or three projectiles from what it dubbed its "super-large" multiple rocket launcher system.

During the previous 10 rounds of tests, North Korea was believed to have showed off four new types of weapons: its version of Russia's Iskander ballistic missile, its version of the U.S.' Army Tactical Missile System, "a new large-caliber multiple launch guided rocket system" presumed to be a 400-millimeter one and the super-large launcher.

Under U.N. Security Council resolutions, the North is banned from test-firing ballistic missiles.

But Trump has brushed off recent tests by the North and boasted of his good relations with Kim, stressing that Pyongyang has not tested long-range missiles or nuclear devices in the current phase of peace efforts.
 

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North Korea Says Underwater-Launched Missile Test Succeeded
03 Oct 2019
The Associated Press
By Hyung-jin Kim

North-Korea-underwater-launched-missile-1200 - Copy.jpg

In this Wednesday, Oct. 2, 2019, photo provided Thursday, Oct. 3, 2019, by the North Korean government, an underwater-launched missile lifts off in the waters off North Korea's eastern coastal town of Wonsan. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea confirmed Thursday it has carried out its first underwater-launched ballistic missile test in three years, in an apparent bid to dial up pressure on the United States ahead of a weekend resumption of their nuclear diplomacy.

Wednesday’s test of the Pukguksong-3 missile, which North Korea describes as a submarine-launched ballistic missile, is seen as the North’s most high-profile weapons launch since it began diplomacy with the United States early last year. Some experts say North Korea wants to show to the U.S. what would happen if diplomacy fails again.

The Korean Central News Agency said the missile test in the waters off its east coast was successful and “ushered in a new phase in containing the outside forces' threat to (North Korea) and further bolstering its military muscle for self-defense.”

It didn’t say which outside forces threaten its security. But North Korea has previously said it was forced to develop nuclear-armed missiles to cope with U.S. military threats.

The KCNA report didn’t elaborate on whether the missile was fired from a submarine, a barge or other underwater launch platform. North Korea-dispatched photos showed the missile rising and spewing bright flames above a cloud of smoke from the sea, but the launch platform was not identifiable.

Kim Dong-yub, an analyst from Seoul's Institute for Far Eastern Studies, wrote on Facebook that the missile was likely fired from a barge built for an underwater launch. He said the missile is under development and that North Korea must test-fire it from a submarine before deploying it.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the North Korean missile traveled about 450 kilometers (280 miles) at a maximum altitude of 910 kilometers (565 miles). Ministry officials said the missile flew higher than any other short-range weapons North Korea test-fired in recent months.

KCNA said the missile was launched in a vertical mode and that its test had no adverse impact on the security of neighboring countries. It said Kim sent “warm congratulations” to the national defense scientific research units involved in the test-firing

If fired at a standard trajectory, Kim, the analyst, said the missile could have travelled 1,500-2,000 kilometers (930-1,240 miles). He said the Pukguksong-3 is a medium-range missile. North Korea hadn’t tested a medium- and long-range missiles since its entrance to talks with the United States.

North Korean and U.S. officials are to meet on Saturday to restart diplomacy on how to end the North Korean nuclear crisis. That diplomacy largely remains stalemated after the February breakdown of a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Vietnam.

North Korea has recently warned its dealings with the United States may end if Washington fails to come up with new proposals to salvage the nuclear diplomacy by December.

Pukguksong, or Polaris, is a solid-fuel missile in the North’s weapons arsenal. The country first test-launched a Pukguksong-1 missile from an underwater platform in 2016, and Kim said at the time his military had gained "perfect nuclear-attack capability." A year later, the North test-launched a Pukguksong-2, a land-based variant of the missile.

North Korea having an ability to fire a missile from a submarine is a threat to the United States and its allies because such launches are harder to detect early enough to respond. The use of solid fuel also increases a weapon’s mobility.

After Wednesday’s launch, the U.S. State Department called on North Korea "to refrain from provocations, abide by their obligations under U.N. Security Council resolutions, and remain engaged in substantive and sustained negotiations to do their part to ensure peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and achieve denuclearization."

Japan lodged an immediate protest, saying the missile landed inside its exclusive economic zone for the first time since November 2017.
 

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Seoul: Kim Jong Un focused on denuclearization
Oct. 21, 2019
By Elizabeth Shim

Seoul-Kim-Jong-Un-focused-on-denuclearization - Copy.jpg

Kim Jong Un's appearance last week at snow-covered Mount Paektu is a sign of a pending major decision, Seoul said Monday. Photo by KCNA/EPA-EFE


Oct. 21 (UPI) -- Kim Jong Un could still be prioritizing negotiations with the United States following his first appearance on horseback at snow-covered Mount Paektu, Seoul said Monday.

Unification Minister Kim Yeon-chul said the North Korean leader recently climbed Mount Paektu in an event state media described as the "first snow" ahead of a possible major decision, Newsis reported.

The South Korean official told the National Assembly's foreign affairs and unification committee Kim's rare appearance is a sign North Korea is prioritizing denuclearization negotiations with the United States.

"We compared the [most recent] visit to Mount Paektu to past visits, when strategic decisions were made," Kim Yeon-chul said. "There appears to be a slight difference from the past, and economic aspects, because of [a related visit] to [nearby] Samjiyon County."

KCNA reported last week Kim Jong Un was in nearby Samjiyon inspecting construction. He has visited Samjiyon multiple times in 2019, where the regime has been reportedly building a resort.

The South Korean official said North Korea's deadline for negotiations by the end of 2019 means there is a "need for working-level talks." North Korean officials most recently met with U.S. counterparts in Sweden but talks collapsed.

North Korea has also rejected talks with South Korea and has been militarizing islands at the maritime border.

Seoul's defense ministry came under fire on Monday from opposition party lawmakers, including Ha Tae-kyung of the center-right Bareun Mirae Party, News 1 reported.

Ha and others asked Defense Minister Jeong Kyeong-doo about the presence of North Korean artillery on five islands at the disputed Northern Limit Line.

Ha requested confirmation from Jeong about the presence of North Korean weapons on five islands, including Jangjaedo, Galdo, Mudo, Arido and Hambakdo. The lawmaker asked Jeong about 16 multiple rocket launchers, capable of shooting 288 rockets simultaneously.

Jeong did not deny the presence of the artillery. Jeong also said making public the presence of the North Korean artillery is "not good for [South Korean] national security," according to the report.
 

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