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Seoul monitoring North Korea ahead of U.S. presidential elections

A military source said activity has been detected at Pyongyang’s nuclear site and movement of road mobile launchers is ongoing.

By
Elizabeth Shim
North Korea has stayed away from provocations as a political scandal has clouded the South Korean presidency, but a military source in Seoul says North Korea is capable of launching another medium-range ballistic missile at any time. File Photo by Rodong Sinmun
North Korea has stayed away from provocations as a political scandal has clouded the South Korean presidency, but a military source in Seoul says North Korea is capable of launching another medium-range ballistic missile at any time. File Photo by Rodong Sinmun

SEOUL, Nov. 7 (UPI) -- South Korea's military is strengthening surveillance of Pyongyang ahead of the U.S. presidential election on Tuesday.

A joint chiefs of staff member who spoke to Yonhap on the condition of anonymity said a busy political week in the United States and mass protests in Seoul calling for President Park Geun-hye's resignation do not rule out North Korea provocations.

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The South Korea "military is maintaining a posture of readiness and close monitoring, keeping in mind the possibility of tactical provocations at the Punggye-ri nuclear site and the Tongchang-ri [satellite launch station] area," the Seoul source said.

North Korea is reportedly ready to launch another medium-range ballistic missile, the Hwasong-10, at a moment's notice, according to the report.

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The military source told Yonhap "continued movements at Punggye-ri and constant activity around North Korea's road mobile launchers are being identified."

A political scandal centered on South Korean President Park Geun-hye has raised doubts in the country over whether the plan to deploy the U.S. missile defense system THAAD would be carried out.

Yonhap's source said the military's "basic position" remains unchanged.

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"All issues related to national security must not, in any circumstance, be shaken...THAAD deployment will be pursued as planned," the source said.

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But a government decision to deploy the missile defense system at a golf course in a central region of the country is still "under negotiation," the source added.

Once an agreement is reached, the next step is to undertake "objective and transparent" appraisal and come to terms on a price for the acquisition of land.

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On Monday Seoul's joint chiefs chairman Gen. Lee Sun-jin held a video teleconference with members of South Korea's navy, army and air force. Lee said military commanders should "focus solely on the enemy" during a difficult time in South Korea domestically, News 1 reported.

Lee also watched South Korean troops perform practical training at the Namhan River in an area south of Seoul.

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