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North Korea fires more missiles


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POSTED: Saturday, July 04, 2009

North Korea fired five missiles off its eastern coast today, South Korea said, in what was likely to be seen as a message of defiance to the United States on its Independence Day holiday.

The launches, which came two days after North Korea fired four short-range missiles, could further escalate tensions in the region as the U.S. tries to muster support for tough enforcement of the U.N. resolution imposed on the communist regime for its May nuclear test.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said three missiles were fired early today and the other two came later, but declined to elaborate on the type.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted military officials as saying the weapons appeared to be a type of Scud missile. North Korea's Scuds are considered short range, South Korea's military said.

North Korea is not allowed to fire Scuds, medium-range missiles or long-range missiles under the resolution banning any launch using ballistic missile technology.

North Korea's state news agency carried no reports on the launches.

The chief of U.S. Naval operations, Adm. Gary Roughead, said the American military was ready for any North Korean missile tests.

“;Our ships and forces here are prepared for the tracking of the missiles and observing the activities that are going on,”; Roughead said after meeting Japanese military officials in Tokyo today.

Speculation had been high that the communist country might launch more missiles. North Korea had warned shipping to stay away from its east coast through this Friday.

A senior presidential official said the missiles fired today are believed to have a range of less than 300 miles. He cautioned that North Korea could fire more missiles in coming days, but said there was little possibility it could fire the long-range intercontinental ballistic missile it threatened in April.