SEOUL May 8 Three drones that crashed in South
Korea had onboard flight programming that showed they were
launched from North Korea and were meant to return after flying
over military installations in the South, the defence ministry
in Seoul said on Thursday.
South Korean and U.S. officials jointly examined the three
drones that were recovered in three different locations near the
Korean border over a two-week period starting in late March.
The second was discovered soon after a three-hour artillery
barrage between North and South Korea in waters near a disputed
The drones' penetration of South Korean airspace raised
questions about its air defence capabilities while Pyongyang
clings to its hard-line stance against Seoul.
"North Korea's action is a clear military provocation that
violates the armistice and the South-North non-aggression
agreement," the South's defence ministry said in a statement.
Pyongyang has denied any involvement, calling the South's
charge a fabrication.
In April, North Korea proposed a joint probe with the South
but Seoul rejected the proposal.
South Korea's defence ministry also said in April some of
the parts in the recovered drones were manufactured in China,
Japan, the Czech Republic and the United States, but it offered
no further details.
Photographs unearthed by the North Korea Tech blog showed a
drone made by a Chinese company with an almost identical size
and shape to some of the drones found in South Korea.
South Korea's defence ministry said it was aware of the
Chinese-made drone and had sought explanations from the Chinese
Repeated calls by Reuters to Taiyuan Hangyou Hangkong
Technology Co. Ltd, the company that produces the drones, were
Chin's foreign ministry also did not respond immediately to
requests for comment.
So far this year North Korea has test-fired medium-range
ballistic missiles, threatened to conduct a nuclear test, and
fired more than 500 artillery shells that landed in disputed
waters between the two Koreas.
Pyongyang has also recently conducted engine tests for an
intercontinental ballistic missile that could potentially
deliver a nuclear warhead to the United States, a U.S. think
tank said on Friday.
North Korea released TV footage last year of practice drones
which had been modified to crash into predetermined targets, but
it is not believed to operate drones capable of air strikes or
long-range surveillance sorties.
North Korea's state media said last year leader Kim Jong Un
had supervised a drill of "super-precision" drone attacks on a
simulated South Korean target.
Although the North has one of the world's largest standing
armies, much of its equipment consists of antiquated Soviet-era
designs. It has focused its resources on developing nuclear and
long-range missile programmes.
(Additional reporting by James Pearson and Lim Sang-gyu in
SEOUL and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Jack Kim and Paul