YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollections

North Korea test-fires five missiles, reports say

By launching five short-range missiles, analysts say, North Korea is attempting to improve its bargaining position ahead of possible talks with the U.S.

October 13, 2009|Associated Press

SEOUL — North Korea reportedly test-launched five short-range missiles Monday, and may fire more, in what analysts called an attempt to improve its bargaining position ahead of possible talks with the United States.

North Korea has recently reached out to the U.S. and South Korea after months of tension over its nuclear and missile tests this year. Leader Kim Jong Il told visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao last week that his government might return to stalled six-nation negotiations on its nuclear program depending on the outcome of direct talks it seeks with the United States.

Washington has said it is considering holding talks with North Korea as part of efforts to restart the six-party negotiations.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency, citing a South Korean official it did not identify, said the KN-02 surface-to-surface missiles were fired from mobile launch pads and had a range of up to 75 miles.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff today confirmed the launches but declined to identify the number and types of missiles fired off North Korea's east coast -- the first since July 4, when the North test-fired seven ballistic missiles. South Korea also has detected evidence that North Korea is preparing to fire short-range missiles off its west coast and has announced a no-sail zone there, Yonhap said, citing an unidentified government official. South Korea's Defense Ministry declined to comment on that report.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on Monday that American efforts to resume the nuclear talks with North Korea would proceed despite the new tests.

"Our consultations with our partners and our allies continues unabated," she said. "It is unaffected by the behavior of North Korea."

Los Angeles Times Articles