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South Korea-North Korea: South Korea has placed in military service the Hyunmu-3C long-range cruise missile that puts all of North Korea within range of attack, national defense ministry officials said Thursday.

The domestically designed and produced cruise missile has a range of "more than 1,000 kilometers and can immediately strike anywhere in North Korea," according to Major General Shin Won-sik, the senior official in charge of policy planning at the ministry.

"While maintaining unwavering readiness with this longer-range weaponry, our military will firmly and thoroughly retaliate if North Korea conducts a reckless provocation."

Shin did not provide the name of the new cruise missile, but indicated South Korea has started manufacturing the surface-to-surface Hyunmu-3C with a range of up to 1,500 km since 2010. (Sic.)

The Hyunmu-3A and Hyunmu-3B cruise missiles, which have a range of 500 km and 1,000 km respectively, are already in military service.

Together with the new cruise missile, the military has also deployed the Hyunmu-2 tactical ballistic missile with a range of 300 km, which is "more powerful than" the MGM-140 Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) developed by the United States, Shin said.

Comment: The news is that the longer range missile is now operational and fielded with the forces. Most South Korean news outlets judged the timing of the announcement was intended to reassure the South Korean public that South Korea has the capability to deter the North or to retaliate against a provocation with multiple powerful weapons.

The South's indigenously designed and manufactured weapons work well. North Korea has no defense against South Korean or other Allied missiles.

Hyunmu is the Korean term for a Chinese constellation. Hyunmu is the black tortoise and snake figure and it is associated with "north."

India: India announced Thursday that it successfully test launched the Agni-V long range ballistic missile.

The head of India's Defense Research and Development Organization, Vijay Saraswat, said the missile was launched at 8:07 a.m. from Wheeler Island off India's east coast. It rose to an altitude of more than 370 miles, its three stages worked properly and its payload was deployed as planned, he said.

The missile will need four or five more trials before it can be inducted into India's forces at some point in 2014 or 2015, Indian officials said.

The Agni-V is a solid-fuel, three-stage missile designed to carry a 1.5-ton nuclear warhead. It stands 57 feet tall, has a launch weight of 50 tons and was built at a reported cost of $486 million. Its range is 5,000 kms. It can be moved across the country by road or rail and can be used to carry multiple warheads or to launch satellites into orbit.

It is the first Indian missile that can reach every major city in China, including Beijing and Shanghai. Indian officials insist it is not targeted at anyone.

Comment: With this launch, India is the sixth country in the world with long range ballistic missiles. Once Agni-V's are fielded with the forces, India will have a suite of ballistic missiles for fighting Pakistan and China, Pakistan's most important ally.

Afghanistan: For the record. There have been no demonstrations protesting the photos of dead suicide bombers.

Afghanistan-Australia: Update. Australian Prime Minister Gillard announced that Australia's troop contingent will remain in Afghanistan through 2014, reversing earlier indications that they would withdraw next year.

Egypt-Saudi Arabia: Saudi Arabia plans to deposit $1 billion in Egypt's central bank and to buy $750 million in T-bonds by the end of April as part of a $2.7 billion aid package, an Egyptian government official said 19 April.

Comment: The Saudis just cast their vote in the Egyptian presidential election. The vote is for continuity in policy and internal stability.

Sudan-South Sudan: South Sudanese forces beat back four Sudanese armed forces attacks over a 24-hour period, a South Sudanese military official said 19 April. Three of the attacks occurred on 18 April and one on the 19th, a military spokesman said. He also said South Sudan is defending its territory and considers Sudan a friendly nation.

South Sudan seized the contested oil-producing Heglig region last week, prompting Sudan's parliament to brand its former civil war foe an "enemy" on Monday and to call for a swift recapture of the flat savanna region.

Two days ago Sudan declared war against South Sudan. On Wednesday Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir vowed to "liberate" South Sudan from its ruling party and free the South Sudanese. Our main goal is liberation of the southern citizens from the SPLM," Bashir said. "This is our responsibility before the Southern people."

Comment: Sudan has reasonably well-equipped armed forces with over 100,000 military personnel, reinforced by a large armed militia. It is overextended, however, and has never succeeded in defeating the South Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army, the size of whose forces is not known.

The agreement leading to South Sudanese independence last July is fragile. Some well-informed Readers opined that a military showdown always has been inevitable and that they judged Sudan never accepted the agreement as final.

It is doubtful that this is the final showdown because both sides need the oil revenue. Thus the situation looks tailor-made for African Union or UN intervention, mediation, a peacekeeping force and negotiations, after some fighting.

End of NightWatch

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