ROK spy chief says more attacks likely

Updated: 2010-12-02 06:42
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SEOUL- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is highly likely to attack the Republic of Korea again, the ROK's spy chief said on Wednesday, as a flotilla of American warships led by an aircraft carrier left the ROK's waters after a deadly attack.

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"There is a high possiblity that the North (DPRK) will make an additional attack," Won Sei-hoon, director of the National Intelligence Service, told a parliamentary committee meeting.

The South's Defence Minister, Kim Tae-young, has also warned there was an "ample possibility" the DPRK might stage another provocation once a US-ROK exercise ended on Wednesday.

Won said wire-taps in August indicated Pyongyang was preparing for an attack off the west coast designed to smooth the way for Kim Jong-il's son to take over as leader, Yonhap news agency reported.

"In August this year, we confirmed DPRK's plan to attack five islands in the West Sea through wiretapping," he said. "We didn't expect the shelling on civilians, as the DPRK has often made threatening remarks."

Won said the attack on Yeonpyeong island came as "internal complaints are growing about the North's succession for a third generation (of Kim family rule), and its economic situation is worsening".    

Meanwhile, a four-day show-of-force military exercise with the United States, which included the aircraft carrier USS George Washington, concluded and the vessels headed to another joint manoeuvre with Japan.    

The ROK is planning further artillery drills, "including waters close to the Yellow Sea border (with the DPRK)" starting on Monday, Yonhap said.

Oil traders, meanwhile, said the US Navy was seeking a medium-range oil tanker to move at least 30,000 tonnes of jet fuel from Japan to the ROK, suggesting it was stockpiling.

The route is unusual for jet fuel, but the US military said such shipments were standard for operational use.

Nearly 30,000 US troops are based in the ROK, which is still technically at war with the DPRK, having only signed a truce to end fighting in the 1950-53 war.