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(LEAD) S. Korea finds 'scientific' evidence of N. Korea's drone provocation

All News 11:02 June 21, 2017

(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with JCS' statement, other details)
By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, June 21 (Yonhap) -- South Korea announced Wednesday that it has confirmed North Korea's responsibility for a camera-equipped drone found on a mountain near their border early this month.

The drone took off from Kumgang County in the North's eastern province on May 2 and crossed the Military Demarcation Line (MDL), the South's defense ministry said, citing a "scientific probe" that was conducted with the state-run Agency for Defense Development (ADD).

"(We) have confirmed that it's North Korea's small unmanned aerial vehicle on the basis of clear scientific evidence from the analysis of its flight route," the ministry's spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said.

The drone flew for around 5 1/2 hours, taking 551 photos, including those of the site for the U.S. missile interceptor system, called THAAD, in Seongju, some 270 kilometers southeast of Seoul.

It was programmed to fly back to the North, which the South calls a "smoking gun" for North Korea's responsibility.

A photo, provided by South Korea's military, shows a North Korean drone found on a mountain in Inje, Gangwon Province, on June 9, 2017. (Yonhap)

It apparently crashed on the mountain in Inje, Gangwon Province, close to the MDL on its way back to the North. It was discovered by a local resident June 9.

"North Korea's act this time is a clear military provocation violating the (1953) Armistice Agreement and the (1992) bilateral nonaggression pact," said Army Brig. Gen. Heo Tae-keun, deputy chief of the ministry's policy planning office.

South Korea has requested the United Nations Command to look formally into the case in accordance with the Armistice Agreement that effectively ended the Korean War.

"(We) will take appropriate measures in accordance with the results of its investigation," he said.

The South's military issued a strong warning statement.

"Our military strongly denounces North Korea's continued drone infiltration provocations and urges it to once again immediately stop all types of provocations," the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

Should the North continue such provocative acts, it will face tough retaliation from the South's troops, it added.

The drone's penetration of South Korean airspace rekindled public concern about the country's air defense capabilities.

In 2014, three drones were found in three different areas just south of the heavily armed border between the two Koreas. Following weeks of a probe, the South put the blame on the North.


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