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North Korea launches more missiles -

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North Korea launches more missiles

Mark Willacy reported this story on Friday, July 3, 2009 12:22:00

PETER CAVE: South Korea is on high alert preparing for more missile launches from its Stalinist
neighbour.

North Korea tested four missiles overnight.

Believed to be anti-shipping missiles, they landed in the Sea of Japan and the launch came after
Pyongyang issued a warning to shipping to keep clear.

North Asia correspondent, Mark Willacy is in the South Korean capital, Seoul and he joined me on
the line.

Mark, what details have emerged about these latest missile tests and why are the North Koreans so
determined to continue with them?

MARK WILLACY: What we do know is that basically four missiles were launched in quick succession
overnight Australian time. There had been a warning that this would happen because the North
Koreans had warned all shipping to stay away from designated areas off its west and east coast.

So everyone had been told to keep the ships away and that warning actually still remains in place
until next week.

What we are hearing from the South Koreans is basically, let's expect some more and possibly we may
see even some medium range missiles launched, and the big fear here in Seoul is that they may even
try and launch a Taepodong-2 which is long range intercontinental ballistic missiles.

PETER CAVE: We'll talk about that in just a second but how is the Government in Seoul taking this?
Are they calm about it?

MARK WILLACY: They seem fairly calm. It is interesting in so far as what they are not saying. That
is basically, there has been no great public announcement or condemnation, there's the usual
condemnation. It is whispering behind the scenes and we are hearing from the newspaper reports that
security officials do believe that this will be the start of a new barrage of North Korean rocket
launches and the fear, as I say, is that it could get a little bit more serious than just a few
short range missiles.

That is when a few people around the region, including the Japanese, start to get very shaky
indeed.

PETER CAVE: Well, you mentioned the Japanese, how have they reacted so far?

MARK WILLACY: They have come out publicly. The Government there is Tokyo has said look this is yet
another provocative action by North Korea. It contributes nothing to resolving the problems that
have been on the table now for decades and in fact, all it does is worsen things and the Japanese
say they are perplexed by North Korea's behaviour but in the past, as they know, North Korea is
quite unpredictable.

Although what they're seeking out of this latest missile barrage, the nuclear test, the launching
of long range missile a couple of months ago, that is the big question. Whether it's to try and get
a seat on the negotiating table internationally or whether it has got something more to do with
domestic politics inside Pyongyang.

PETER CAVE: Domestic politics; I guess you mean the succession, do you?

MARK WILLACY: That's right. A lot of people say look this isn't about international brinkmanship.
It has got nothing to do with trying to force Barack Obama to the negotiating table and to try and
squeeze aid or other concessions out of Washington.

A lot of analysts and North Korea watchers say this is all about playing to the North Korean
military.

This is Kim Jong-il saying to the military, I want you to know that I am still firmly in control
and I want you to accept my succession plan and that is my third and youngest son, Kim Jong-un will
succeed me.

Basically making a third generation dynasty out of the Kim family.

PETER CAVE: Mark Willacy, live on the line there from the South Korean capital, Seoul.