The Hunt For Red Pyongyang: South Korea On Alert For Naval Attack After "Losing" 4 North Korean Subs
Just because the imminent launch of a North Korean rocket along a trajectory which will likely force Japan to strike it down, something which Pyongyang said would be equivalent to an act of war, was not enough, it now appears that South Korea has commenced the hunt for Red Pyongyang or four, as it is now "searching for four North Korean submarines that disappeared after leaving their bases on the tense peninsula." ABC News reports that "A military source quoted in a South Korean newspaper says up to four North Korean submarines slipped out of port in recent days and have so far avoided detection. The source was also quoted as saying that Pyongyang has stepped up submarine infiltration drills as the weather has warmed." As a result, "Seoul is now on alert for a possible strike against a South Korean naval ship." This won't be the first time a North Korean sub is implicated in potential wrongdoing: "The South accuses the North of using a midget submarine to sink the corvette the Cheonan two years ago, which left 46 South Korean sailors dead."
Just more posturing, Or will Kim Jong Un force the hand of either Seoul or in a few days, Tokyo? From Al Jazeera:
Japan has completed the deployment of a land-based system of interceptor missiles in preparation for a planned North Korean rocket launch later this month.
The exercise was finalised in Okinawa on Thursday, days after a similar deployment was completed on Monday in Naha, the capital of Okinawa prefecture.
The interceptors would be ready to shoot down any parts of the rocket that veer into Japan's airspace.
Kunisaki, a transport ship in the Maritime Defence Force, carried the Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptors to the port on Ishigaki island to be installed facing towards the controversial rocket's planned route.
With the PAC-3's arrival in Ishigaki, the island closest to the area of the rocket's trajectory, interceptors are now positioned at four locations in Okinawa, including the military bases in Naha, Miyako and Chinen.
Mobile missile launchers, in addition to the ones in Okinawa, will be positioned in the Tokyo metropolitan area in the next few days.
Japan is not taking any chances:
Japan has raised concerns that a failed launch, or a failing stage of the rocket, could endanger Japanese lives or property.
In addition to the PAC-3s, anti-missile equipped destroyers will be deployed to the Pacific and East China Sea. Tokyo took the same measures in 2009 over an earlier North Korean missile launch.
They deployed warships with anti-missile systems, positioned patriot missile interceptors and established a system to warn residents when the rocket was approaching.
And things will just escalate from there. The US has already warned North Korea it would halt food aid the troubled country if it proceeds with the missile launch, which seemingly may provoke Korea to proceed with more nuclear tests.
Choson Sinbo, a newspaper in Japan that generally reflects North Korea's official thinking, warned that Pyongyang's moratorium on nuclear tests "can be canceled" if the US ends plans for food aid.
Pyongyang in February agreed to suspend operations at its Yongbyon uranium enrichment plant and impose a moratorium on long-range missile tests and nuclear tests, in return for 240,000 tonnes of US food aid.
Washington last week said it was suspending plans to start food deliveries in light of the imminent rocket launch.
The rocket is expected to launch in the April 12-16 interval. What happens after remains to be seen.