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NKorea fires short-range missiles: Yonhap

"North Korea appears to have fired KN-02 or Styx missiles into the international sea from North Korean waters."
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Oct 8, 2008
North Korea has fired two short-range missiles into international waters in the Yellow Sea as part of a routine military drill, South Korea's Yonhap news agency said early Wednesday, quoting a defence source.

The missile launch in waters adjoining China comes amid intense efforts to save a nuclear disarmament agreement which is in danger of collapsing because of a dispute over verification of the North's declared nuclear programme.

"We understand that North Korea fired about two missiles in the Yellow Sea in the afternoon of the seventh (of October)," the unnamed source was quoted by Yonhap as saying.

"It seems that the missiles were fired as part of their routine drill."

Yonhap said it was the first missile launch by the North since March.

"North Korea had designated an off-limit zone for vessels in the Yellow Sea before it fired missiles," the source said.

"North Korea appears to have fired KN-02 or Styx missiles into the international sea from North Korean waters."

The drill follows reports last week that the North has been upgrading a missile launch site on its east coast in preparation to test a new long-range missile.

The North alarmed its neighbours by test-launching a Taepodong-1 from the Musudan-ri launch site on the east coast in 1998 over Japan. It test-launched a Taepodong-2 from the same site in 2006 but the missile failed.

The latest missile launch comes after chief US nuclear negotiator Christopher Hill visited Pyongyang last week to try to rescue the six-nation disarmament deal.

North Korea is bridling at a US-inspired verification plan which reportedly calls for the secretive communist state to give access to undeclared suspected nuclear facilities and to let inspectors take samples of material.

Pyongyang accepted the aid-for-disarmament deal in February 2007, just four months after staging a nuclear weapons test.

It shut down its Yongbyon nuclear complex in July last year and began disabling it in November. And in June it handed over a declaration of nuclear activities to China.

But now the North is angry that the US failed to respond by removing it from a terrorism blacklist, as required under the accord. It says it will soon begin work to restart a plutonium reprocessing plant.

Before delisting occurs, the US demands that the North agree on inspection procedures to ensure it is telling the truth in its declaration.

The North says verification is not part of this stage of the agreement, and accuses Washington of seeking Iraq-style "house searches" for atomic material.

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