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SEOUL, May 19 (Yonhap) -- South Korea has placed Israeli precision-guided missiles capable of striking North Korean coastal artillery on its Yellow Sea border islands, a military official said Sunday.
"Dozens of Spike missiles and their launchers have recently been deployed on Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands," an official for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. "They can destroy (North Korea's) underground facilities and can pursue and strike moving targets."
The satellite-guided Spike missile has a range of about 20 kilometers and weighs 70 kilograms, according to military officials. Yeonpyeong lies just 11㎞ from North Korean shores.
Officials also said North Korea has set up 76.2-millimeter coastal guns, each with a range of 12㎞, on the coast northwest of Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong. The North has also deployed 122-㎜ multiple rocket launchers, which have a 20-㎞ range, on land.
According to officials, Spike missiles had been scheduled to be deployed in late 2012 but delayed test-firing pushed back the timetable by half a year.
North Korea on Saturday launched three short-range missiles into the sea off the Korean Peninsula's east coast. The latest firing came about two weeks after Pyongyang withdrew two Musudan intermediate-range missiles it had deployed on its east coast in early April, along with medium-range Rodong missiles. They were deployed in an apparent protest of joint South Korea-U.S. military exercises.
A South Korean government source said Sunday the North may have fired a multiple rocket launcher of at least 300㎜ in caliber.
Immediately following the launches on Saturday, military officials here had said the North appeared to have shot short-range KN-02 missiles.
"The missiles traveled about 120㎞, and in the North Korean arsenal, only the modified KN-02 or multiple rocket launchers of 300㎜ or larger in caliber can go that far," the source said. "It's possible that North Korea fired both KN-02 missiles and its multiple rocket launcher."
According to military officials, the modified KN-02 boasts a range of 160㎞, 40㎞ longer than the prototype. The exact range of the large multiple rocket launcher remains unknown, but officials estimate that it can cover at least 100㎞. They also believe the 300-㎜ launcher, currently in development in the North, can be equipped with a guidance system.
The North is known to possess three types of multiple rocket launchers, and its 240-㎜ system has the longest range with 60㎞.
The North has yet to comment on Saturday's launches. South Korean experts and officials said the North may have been carrying out a military exercise, while others speculated that Pyongyang appears to be trying to escalate tensions in the region and draw attention from the United States and the international community.
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