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North Korea fires four short-range missiles

The nation has ratcheted up tension in the region and the world with recent test launches and a nuclear detonation. An anticipated July 4 missile test has spurred the U.S. to upgrade security in Hawaii.

July 03, 2009|John M. Glionna

SEOUL — North Korea test-fired four short-range missiles Thursday, according to South Korea's Defense Ministry. The launches came just weeks after the reclusive state warned vessels to avoid its coastline because of projected military maneuvers.

The regime sent up what officials said were two anti-ship missiles that flew 60 miles before splashing down in the sea. Two more short-range missiles were fired a few hours later.

The latest launches follow a recent nuclear detonation and a flurry of missile tests by North Korea, apparently in response to proposals for tough new United Nations sanctions -- later imposed.

"This afternoon at 5:20 and 6 p.m., two short-range missiles were fired from Sinsang-ri," a South Korean Defense Ministry official told The Times.

The third missile was launched at 7:50 p.m. and the fourth at 9:50 p.m., said the official, who said he was not authorized to give his name because of the sensitivity of the information.

Tension on the Korean peninsula has increased since spring, when North Korea launched a rocket it said carried a communications satellite.

Experts said the exercise was a disguised test of a long-range ballistic missile.

After the U.S., Japan and South Korea then pressed for new sanctions by the U.N. Security Council, North Korea in May conducted an underground nuclear test.

Pyongyang also pulled out of the long-stalled six-nation talks aimed at coaxing it to drop its ambitions to become a nuclear-armed state. North Korean officials also adopted a more strident stance toward South Korea and disowned the armistice signed at the end of the 1950s Korean War.

Anticipating the launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile that news reports say could come as early as this weekend, the U.S. has upgraded security in Hawaii.

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john.glionna@latimes.com

Ju-min Park in The Times' Seoul Bureau contributed to this report.

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