North Korea test-fires missiles after South Korea adopts tougher line
Missile launches and the expulsion of South Korean personnel from a joint industrial zone show Pyongyang's irritation with Seoul.
In what experts say is a sign of North Korea's growing frustration with South Korea's new, more critical government, North Korean forces test-launched several missiles into the Yellow Sea Friday morning.Skip to next paragraph
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The Associated Press reports that South Korea's Yonhap News Agency, citing unidentified South Korean officials, said that three ship-to-ship missiles were fired off North Korea's west coast. Seoul later confirmed the missile launch, but played down its significance.
The missile tests were part of routine training, South Korean presidential spokesman Lee Dong-kwan said, declining to give further details on the type of rockets fired. He told reporters that Seoul was "closely monitoring the situation." "I believe North Korea would also not want a strain in inter-Korean relations," Lee said. The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North's "short-range guided missile" firing was believed to be an effort to test and improve the missile's performance. It did not give details such as exactly how many missiles were fired, saying such information belongs to military intelligence.
Pyongyang was basically sending two messages with the launch, Keio University Korea expert Masao Okonogi said in Tokyo. One was aimed at the United States after talks in Geneva, showing the North's dissatisfaction with Washington's pressure to come clean on uranium enrichment and ties with Syria, he said. The other was a riposte to the ... shift in stance [of South Korea's new president, Lee Myung Bak]. "They are warning Seoul not to go back on things agreed between the North and the South," Okonogi said.