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Seoul Says Ready To Thwart Any Missile Attack

  • RFE/RL

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: "Very close to a dangerous line."

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel: "Very close to a dangerous line."

South Korea says it is ready to thwart any attack by North Korean missiles.

"If North Korean missiles fly in the shooting range of our Patriot missiles, we can shoot them down," South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok told reporters in Seoul.

His statement comes as South Korean intelligence has said it believes North Korea may have prepared two midrange missiles for imminent launch from its east coast.

On April 10, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warned North Korea it is near a "dangerous line."

"North Korea has been, with its bellicose rhetoric, with its actions, has been skating very close to a dangerous line," he said. "Their actions and their words have not helped defuse a combustible situation."

Speaking at the Pentagon, Hagel also called North Korean leader Kim Jong Un “unpredictable” and said Washington has plans in place to deal with threats to the U.S. and its allies, including South Korea and Japan.

Separately, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Moscow and Washington are in agreement over North Korea but warned both side against escalating the crisis.

"With regard to North Korea, we have no differences with the United States," he said. "But no one should scare anybody with military maneuvers. There is a chance that everything will calm down."

Pyongyang has issued a series of threats against South Korea and the United States since United Nations sanctions were tightened on North Korea following its third nuclear test in February.

The threats also come as the North prepares to mark the April 15 anniversary of the birth of the nation’s founder, Kim Il Sung, grandfather of current ruler Kim Jong Un.

With reporting by Reuters and AFP