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North Korea has 100 sites linked to N programme

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South Korean Defence Minister Kim Tae-young. A File Photo

SEOUL (PTI): South Korea knows the locations of about 100 sites linked to North Korea's clandestine nuclear programme and has the capability to strike them if an attack from the communist neighbour is imminent, its defence minister said Monday.

“There are about 100 sites related to the nuclear programme in North Korea,” South Korean Defence Minister Kim Tae-young told lawmakers.

“We have a complete list of them,” he said, expressing confidence his forces could strike any of them “if it is absolutely clear a North Korean offensive is imminent.”

The comment came after Kim said at a parliamentary hearing last month that he knew of sites where the North could be hiding its stockpile of nuclear arms if it had one.

“We have sufficient information as to the locations where items related to the nuclear programme are stored and the delivery means are placed,” Yonhap news agency quoted the former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff as saying.

Kim's remark came as Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao is in North Korea for high-level talks to persuade Pyongyang to return to the six-way negotiations on nuclear disarmament.

North Korea has conducted two known atomic tests in the past three years -- one in October 2006 and the other in May this year, triggering UN sanctions on the Stalinist country.

The capitalist South and communist North have remained technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended only in an armistice and not a formal peace treaty.

The six-way talks among the two Koreas, China, Japan, Russia and the United States was suspended about a year ago, with Pyongyang saying it would no longer attend the negotiations aimed at curtailing its nuclear weapons capability in return for aid.

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