04:20 GMT +315 December 2019
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    North Korean cargo ships wait their turn for entry to the West Sea Barrage dividing the Taedong River and the port of Nampo from the West Sea of Korea in April 2011

    Missile Fears Proved Futile: Reports on N Korea’s No-Sail Zone Dismissed

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    North Korea has not notified the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and neighboring countries of its declaration of a no-fly, no-sail zone off its coast and is showing no signs of any immediate ballistic missile launch, Seoul's defense ministry says on Monday.

    Seoul's defense ministry has dismissed reports of North Korea’s declaration of a no-sail zone for its ships off its east coast and of a no-fly zone in the same area.

    Earlier on Monday, South Korean media quoted a source from South Korea’s government, which said that North Korea has declared the “introduction of a state period of a hazardous situation in the Sea of Japan,“  suggesting that more missile launches are possible in the area before the US defense chief visits Seoul this week.

    "North Korea has not notified the International Maritime Organization and neighboring countries of its declaration of the no-fly, no-sail zone," South Korean Defense Ministry Vice Spokesman Nah Seung-yong said at a regular briefing.

    "The North might have done that internally for the safety of its people on the East Coast," he added.

    "South Korean and the US intelligence authorities have been closely monitoring their moves around the clock," he said.

    "No concrete, specific signs have been detected as I've just checked (the latest developments)," he answered, when asked about whether Pyongyang had made any unusual moves.

    North Korea watchers, however, speculate that the chances are high that Pyongyang will take a provocative step, especially as US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter plans to start a three-day visit to South Korea on Thursday. The visit is part of a series of planned trips to the region during his first year as Pentagon chief.

    Next week will also mark the late leader Kim Il-sung's 103th birthday. He was the country's founder and the grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un.


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