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Isle-aimed missiles unlikely


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POSTED: Thursday, July 02, 2009

SEOUL » North Korea is highly likely to test-fire a barrage of missiles in coming days, a news report said today, a move that would aggravate the already high tensions generated by Pyongyang's nuclear test and U.N. sanctions.

But Bloomberg News reported that U.S. officials do not see any indication North Korea is poised to test-launch a long-range ballistic missile capable of landing near Hawaii.

Four government officials, who are privy to information about North Korean launch preparations, said there are no signs of the work necessary to launch a long-range missile during the U.S. July 4 Independence Day celebration. The officials did not rule out the firing of short- and medium-range missiles capable of reaching Japanese waters.

And short- to medium-range ballistic rockets were exactly what an unidentified intelligence source said could be expected from two sites on its east coast, according to the South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo.

Last month Pyongyang designated a no-sail zone off its east coast for military drills through July 10.

Meanwhile, North and South Korea held a new round of talks today on their troubled joint industrial complex, including Seoul's demand that a detained South Korean worker be freed, though there was no apparent progress.

The meeting in the North Korean border city of Kaesong comes as the United States is seeking Chinese support to enforce U.N. sanctions slapped on Pyongyang to punish the regime for conducting an underground nuclear test in May.

A U.S. delegation headed by envoy Philip Goldberg was scheduled to hold talks with Chinese officials in Beijing on the sanctions later today.