South Korea Military Keeps Information Secret on North Korea’s Latest Missiles

John Kim, Sept. 11, 2019, 10:16 a.m.

The South Korean military on Tuesday deliberately kept information about North Korea's latest missile launch from the public, apparently for fear of embarrassing itself if its analysis proved wrong again. The military has come under fire after having to make several corrections after it announced inaccurate information on the North's recent missile launches.

But a bullish military spokesman suggested the public should be grateful for any information at all. "South Korea is the only country in the world that makes the specs public whenever the North lobs a missile," the spokesman said. "We don't have to show our hand prematurely."

The military here has regularly been embarrassed by North Korea a day later, when state media published their own announcements and clips. The likeliest reason for the sudden reticence is that South Korean and U.S. intelligence agencies came up with different figures or failed to share intelligence properly.

But the spokesman said, "Nothing has happened in the process of sharing intelligence between Seoul and Washington. Tokyo didn't ask us to share latest intelligence either." The military later revealed that it believes the missiles fired Tuesday morning reached an altitude of about 50 to 60 km and flew a distance of 330 km.

"It's possible that the missiles were fired from... a 600 mm super-large multiple rocket launcher, or a new missile system, given their flight from an inland area to the East Sea and their flight distances," the spokesman added.

But a U.S. spokesperson dismissed the launch, calling the latest North Korean missiles "projectiles," perhaps because the launch came only a day after North Korea's Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui proposed a resumption of talks in late September.

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