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North Korea fires another short-range missile from east coast

The test is the fourth launch in just two days, at a time when tensions with South Korea and Japan remain high.

A mock Scud-B missile of North Korea, right, and other South Korean missiles are displayed at Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea.
A mock Scud-B missile of North Korea, right, and other South Korean missiles are displayed at Korea War Memorial Museum in Seoul, South Korea.
Image: Ahn Young-joon/AP

NORTH KOREA HAS tested another short-range missile off its east coast – its fourth test in two days – despite pleas from South Korea and the UN to halt the launches at a time of high tensions.

The guided missile was fired into the East Sea (Sea of Japan) on Sunday afternoon, a defence ministry spokesman told AFP without elaborating.

Yesterday the North fired three short-range missiles off its east coast, apparently as part of a military drill.

The North’s short-range missile launches are not unusual but come at a time of heightened alert on the peninsula, following Pyongyang’s nuclear test in February which sparked tougher UN sanctions.

Angered by the sanctions and by a joint US-South Korean military exercise, the North for weeks threatened nuclear or conventional attacks on Seoul and Washington.

The South and its US ally had earlier been watching for any test by the North of medium-range Musudan missiles, but a US defence official said earlier this month that the two mid-range missiles had been moved from their launch site.

However South Korea’s unification ministry, which handles cross-border relations, said the short-range launches also pose threats to the region and should be stopped immediately.

“We find it deplorable that the North does not stop provocative actions such as the launch of guided missiles yesterday,” said unification ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-Seok, before the latest exercise.

“We call on the North to take responsible actions for our sake and for the sake of the international community.”

UN chief Ban Ki-moon, speaking in Moscow, also called for Pyongyang to “refrain from” further missile tests. He said it was time for it to resume talks with the international community and reduce tensions.

The US State Department urged Pyongyang to exercise restraint, without specifically commenting on the launches.

It was unclear what type of missiles were fired on either Saturday or Sunday, though Seoul military officials quoted by the Yonhap news agency said they may be KN-02 surface-to-surface weapons with a range of up to 160 kilometres, or rockets of at least 300mm in calibre fired from a multiple launcher.

Park Yong-Ok, a former South Korean deputy defence minister, described the short-range missile launches as an act of “desperation” by the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un, after his country’s recent threats met a strong response from Seoul and Washington.

US President Barack Obama and the South’s President Park Geun-Hye, at a summit this month, vowed to offer no concessions in dealing with Pyongyang.

- © AFP, 2013

Read: North Korea launches three short-range missiles

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