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US advises North Korea against test-firing missiles

The North has carried out such tests many times before. Seoul describes them as part of customary military drills but analysts say they are sometimes timed to make a political point.
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Oct 8, 2008
The US State Department on Wednesday advised North Korea against test-firing short-range weapons, amid reports, which officials in Washington were unable to confirm, that Pyongyang had launched test missiles into the Yellow Sea.

"Can't confirm it," State Department Sean McCormack told reporters when asked whether North Korea had test-fired short-range missiles into the Yellow Sea on Tuesday, as reported by an unidentified official in Seoul.

"We have seen the news reports," McCormack said.

"Just as a general comment with respect to the firing of these kinds of missiles -- these short-range missiles -- we would advise against it," McCormack said.

"It's not helpful in any way managing tensions within the region," he said.

McCormack also declined to speculate on motives, including whether it was a message to the United States which plays a key role in international negotiations to scrap North Korea's nuclear weapons program.

"That gets into the psychology and the thinking of the North Korean government, and I can't offer any insight to that," he added.

In Seoul, a South Korean defence ministry official, who asked not to be named, told AFP that "the latest missile launch was seen as part of routine military exercises."

He added that the missiles were fired on Tuesday, but said the type and number were unclear.

The North has carried out such tests many times before. Seoul describes them as part of customary military drills but analysts say they are sometimes timed to make a political point.

The firing came three days ahead of Friday's anniversary of the North's ruling Workers' Party.

Analysts are closely watching the event to see if the communist state's top leader Kim Jong-Il, who reportedly suffered a stroke in August, will appear.

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NKorea fires short-range missiles: Yonhap
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.

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