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Ironduke
21 Sep 03,, 23:56
N Korea slams US missile move

North Korea has angrily denounced the deployment of new US Patriot missiles in South Korea, describing the move as a "provocative action by the United States to complete its preparations for war".
The North's state-run KCNA news agency warned that the missile upgrade would hamper efforts to resolve the continuing nuclear crisis.

"The US arms build-up in South Korea is creating a stumbling block to resolving the nuclear problem," KCNA said.

"As long as the US does not give up its hostile policy towards the DPRK ( North Korea), we will feel justified in our stance of keeping and strengthening our nuclear deterrent force," KCNA said.

US military authorities announced on Tuesday that they had completed upgrading their Patriot missile batteries based in South Korea, and had brought in equipment for further upgrades.

The new Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) system - currently displayed at Sumon military air base - can target ballistic missiles, cruise missiles and aircraft, according to the US army.

The revamp was part of a $11bn plan to shore up America's defence capabilities in the region, in the light of the continuing standoff over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

The only other place outside the US where the new Patriot system is deployed is in Iraq.

More than 35,000 US troops have been stationed in South Korea since the end of the 1950-1953 Korean war.

Nuclear deadlock

Relations between Washington and Pyongyang worsened a year ago, when US officials said Pyongyang had admitted to a secret programme to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons, violating international agreements.

But Washington is also concerned about Pyongyang's ballistic missile programme.

North Korea already possesses missiles that can reach Japan, and defence experts have warned that the country is developing others which could reach America.

The two countries also remain deadlocked over how to resolve the nuclear crisis.

North Korea has demanded economic aid and a non-aggression pact with America in return for surrendering its nuclear ambitions, but Washington has consistently refused.

The United States, China, Japan, Russia and the two Koreas met in Beijing last month in an effort to resolve the standoff, although no tangible progress was made.

The delegates agreed to meet for further discussions, but a date has yet to be finalised.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3121728.stm