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North Korea Fires Short-Range Missile

South Korean officials described both previous incidents as among the routine missile tests North Korea carries out every year. Japanese officials also played them down. But the US National Security Council described the June 7 exercise as "not constructive."
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) June 19, 2007
North Korea Tuesday test-fired a short-range missile into the sea, South Korean officials said, as international efforts to shut down its nuclear programme began making headway. It was the third launch of short-range conventionally armed missiles in less than a month. The two previous launches have been described as part of routine annual exercises.

"North Korea fired a missile today. We are closely watching North Korea for possible further missile tests," a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff told AFP.

He refused to give any details but Yonhap news agency quoted an intelligence source as saying the short-range missile of an unknown type was launched into the East Sea (Sea of Japan).

"It seems to be part of its routine exercises," the source said.

Japanese public broadcaster NHK, quoting government officials in Tokyo, said the missile was fired shortly after 3:00 pm (0600 GMT).

The latest launch came just three days after the communist state announced it was ready to discuss arrangements for shutting down its nuclear reactor under a six-nation nuclear disarmament deal.

The North invited a preliminary team from the International Atomic Energy Agency which will visit Pyongyang next week.

"I dont think it (the launch) has a special significance that can be linked to the six-party talks," an unidentified South Korean official was quoted by Yonhap as saying.

On May 25, the North test-fired one missile into the sea off its east coast. There were test-launches of two missiles on June 7, this time into the Yellow Sea on the other side of the peninsula.

The previous launches were believed to be of ground-to-ship or ship-to-ship missiles with a range of some 100 kilometres (60 miles).

South Korean officials described both previous incidents as among the routine missile tests North Korea carries out every year. Japanese officials also played them down.

But the US National Security Council described the June 7 exercise as "not constructive."

Yonhap's source said the missile fired Tuesday was similar to the type launched on May 25 and was presumably launched from the same place.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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