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2010/03/09 10:24 KST
N. Korea sets up special missile division: source

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has recently established an independent military division in charge of deploying and operating intermediate-range ballistic missiles, a government source in Seoul said Tuesday, a move indicating the North's determination to continue developing missiles with a range of over 3,000 kilometers.

   North Korea in 2007 rolled out its first -- and so far only, according to intelligence -- intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), which is supposedly capable of reaching Russia, India and Guam.
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"We believe North Korea has set up a division under its Korean People's Army General Staff charged solely with arranging and controlling new intermediate-range missiles," the South Korean government source said, requesting not to be named due to the sensitivity of the issue.

   "We believe the operation of this separate unit indicates North Korea's intention to produce new IRBMs," the source said, adding the weapon poses a threat to the security of the Korean Peninsula as well as the U.S. 7th Fleet, based in Yokosuka, Japan.

   The North is believed to have begun development of its IRBM -- based on a Russian-built SS-N-6, a submarine-launched ballistic missile -- in the late 1990s, and to have deployed it in a "road-mobile mode" in 2007.