ON THE BOR­DER... AND ON THE BRINK

As N Korea launches an­other mis­sile we speak to sol­diers pa­trolling di­vide in the South

Irish Daily Mirror - - NEWS - BY CHRIS HUGHES De­fence and Se­cu­rity Ed­i­tor at the North Korea bor­der

THOU­SANDS of troops on the flash­point bor­der be­tween North and South Korea were on a knifeedge last night af­ter dic­ta­tor Kim Jong-un’s lat­est il­le­gal mis­sile test.

Py­ongyang fired an in­ter­me­di­at­erange mis­sile over Ja­pan for the sec­ond time in re­cent weeks be­fore the South re­sponded with bal­lis­tic rocket drills. It fol­lowed the rogue state’s sixth nu­clear bomb test and threats to launch at­tacks on Amer­ica and its al­lies. At the heav­ily mil­i­tarised bor­der be­tween the two war­ring coun­tries, South Korean troops were prac­tis­ing live at­tack drills and pa­trolling de­fence po­si­tions north of the cap­i­tal Seoul. Cam­ou­flaged sol­diers were seen along the 160-mile de­mil­i­tarised zone sep­a­rat­ing them and thou­sands of en­trenched North Korean forces. One soldier told the Mir­ror: “They are dug-in and un­der­ground just a few hun­dred yards from us but you will very rarely see them as they are in tun­nels. “They come out at night and some­times we even hear them. Dur­ing the re­cent nu­clear test and the mis­sile fir­ing, they even fly their flag high to cel­e­brate this provo­ca­tion by Kim Jong-un.” The lat­est test mis­sile, which came af­ter an­other round of UN sanc­tions, trav­elled 2,229 miles – prov­ing North Korea can hit the US ter­ri­tory of Guam, some 2,112 miles from Py­ongyang. It passed the north­ern­most Ja­panese is­land of Hokkaido at 7.06am lo­cal time yes­ter­day and warn­ings for res­i­dents to take cover went out nine min­utes ear­lier. The mis­sile ap­peared to land in the sea, some 1,242 miles to the east. Ja­pan’s PM Shinzo Abe warned: “If North Korea con­tin­ues to walk down this path, it has no bright fu­ture.” Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump was briefed in the White House while the govern­ments of Ja­pan and South Korea held cri­sis meet­ings. Seoul re­sponded im­me­di­ately with a fir­ing ex­er­cise of its own short-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles. US Sec­re­tary of State Rex Tiller­son urged Rus­sia and China to rein in Jongun. He de­manded: “China and Rus­sia must in­di­cate their in­tol­er­ance for these reck­less mis­sile launches by tak­ing di­rect ac­tions of their own.” In Lon­don, No10 said Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May was “out­raged by North Korea’s con­tin­ued reck­less provo­ca­tion”. For­eign Sec­re­tary Boris John­son tweeted: “Yet an­other il­le­gal mis­sile launch by North Korea. UK and in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity will stand to­gether in the face of these provo­ca­tions.” On Thurs­day, in­tel­li­gence agen­cies re­ported move­ment of mo­bile mis­sile launch­ers in two places in North Korea – signs of launch prepa­ra­tions. Ear­lier this week, Py­ongyang threat­ened the US with “the great­est pain it has ever ex­pe­ri­enced” af­ter the United Na­tions Se­cu­rity Coun­cil im­posed an eighth set of sanc­tions.

THREAT Kim on TV in Tokyo & Mir­ror­man Chris at bor­der

BLAST FEARS Troops tense on south side of the bor­der

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