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North Korea test-fires 3 more missiles, Seoul reports

The new tests come a day after Pyongyang launched four short-range missiles over the sea. The latest missiles also appear to be short-range, a South Korean news agency says.

July 04, 2009|Associated Press

SEOUL — North Korea fired three missiles off its eastern coast today, South Korea said, another in a series of launches since U.N. sanctions were imposed on the regime for its May nuclear test.

Two missiles were fired between 8 and 8:30 a.m. local time, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. It did not give the range of the missiles. Another was fired later in the morning.

"Our military is fully ready to counter any North Korean threats and provocations based on [the] strong South Korea-U.S. combined defense posture," the statement said.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported that North Korea appeared to have fired Scud missiles, which are short-range. The agency quoted a South Korean government official it did not identify.

North Korea fired four short-range missiles off its east coast Thursday.

Speculation had been high that the communist country might launch more missiles in coming days. North Korea had warned ships to stay away from its east coast through July 10.

South Korea's military said Friday that it was closely monitoring North Korean military sites, believing that more missile launches were likely.

Today's reported launches, coming on the Fourth of July, aren't the first time Pyongyang has staged a missile test on U.S. Independence Day.

On July 4, 2006, the government fired off a barrage of missiles, including a long-range Taepodong 2 that broke apart and fell into the ocean less than a minute after liftoff. Those launches also came amid heightened tensions with the U.S. over North Korea's nuclear program.

The bigger question is whether North Korea will attempt a long-range missile launch toward the U.S., a move that would directly flout a U.N. resolution punishing Pyongyang for its May 25 nuclear test.

Despite early speculation fueled by Japanese news reports and the North Korean warning to ships, spy satellites have apparently not detected any of the preparations that would normally presage such a launch.

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