N. Korea Fires Missiles for Third Day
TOKYO, May 20 (RIA Novosti) - North Korea launched another two short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan on Monday, marking the third straight day of firings, South Korea's defense ministry said, Yonhap reported.
Both appeared to be KN-02 surface-to-surface missiles, a ministry official said. 'We are closely watching the movements of the North's military in case of further launches,' he was quoted by Yonhap as saying.
The latest missile, which was fired from a mobile launcher off North Korea's east coast, flew about 120 kilometers (72 miles) in a northeasterly direction before falling into the sea, officials said.
North Korea has launched a total of six short-range projectiles in the past three days, including three on Saturday and one on Sunday.
'We are currently trying to determine what the projectile was and the North's intentions (behind the launch),' Yonhap quoted another military official as saying. 'It appears that the North is trying to renew military tensions on the Korean Peninsula.'
South Korea urged Pyongyang to stop aggravating the situation on the peninsula.
'Whether it's a test-firing or armed demonstration, North Korea should not engage in tension-creating acts,' Kim Jang-soo, head of the national security office, was quoted by Yonhap as saying.
Pyongyang said the missile launches were 'a routine military exercise," the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
'Conducting military drills to build up a strong deterrence capability is a legitimate right of any sovereign country,' the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea stated.
Pyongyang routinely test-launches such missiles, but the latest tests followed several weeks of relative calm on the Korean Peninsula after tensions escalated earlier this year, following North Korea's test of a long-range Taepodong 2 missile in December and its third nuclear test in February, to which the UN responded with sanctions.
North Korea threatened to carry out a nuclear attack on the US mainland and on US forces in the region, and tested two short-range missiles off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula, after the South Korea and the US launched their annual Foal Eagle joint military exercises in March. Later it denied entry to South Korean workers at the jointly run Kaesong industrial complex in North Korea, prompting South Korea to withdraw its remaining workers from the site.
Last week, reports emerged that two North Korean intermediate-range missiles, reportedly prepared for launch last month, had been withdrawn from their coastal deployment positions.
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said on Sunday he was concerned over North Korea's latest short-range missile launches and called on Pyongyang to return to six-party talks on its controversial nuclear program.
North Korea has been subjected to several rounds of UN Security Council sanctions since it declared itself a nuclear power in 2005. The reclusive communist regime broke off talks on its nuclear program with South Korea, China, the United States, Japan and Russia in 2009, after the United Nations Security Council passed a resolution condemning its missile tests.
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