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North Korea fires missiles into sea

North Korea fires two short-range missiles ahead of joint US-South Korea military exercises.

Last updated: 13 Jul 2014 02:13
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North Korea often criticizes joint military exercises held by South Korea [Reuters/KCNA]

North Korea has fired two short-range missiles into the sea, Seoul's military said, in an apparent show of anger at an upcoming joint military drill between South Korea and the US.

The two short-range ballistic missiles were fired into the sea off the east coast early on Sunday, the South's defense ministry told AFP.

"Their range appear to be around 500 kilometres," he said, adding Seoul's military had stepped up monitoring for additional launches.

The move - the latest in a series of similar launches in recent weeks - came a day after Pyongyang condemned an upcoming Seoul-Washington naval joint exercise.

The annual drill, to be held July 16 to 21, involves the US aircraft carrier George Washington, which arrived in the southern port of Busan on Friday.

Frequent launches

North Korea called the port visit by the massive carrier a "reckless" act of provocation on Saturday.

"The US should properly understand that the more persistently it resorts to reckless nuclear blackmail and threat, the further [North Korea] will bolster up its cutting edge nuclear force for self-defense," said North Korea's top military body, the National Defence Commission.

North Korea has habitually slammed joint military exercises held south of the border and often responded with missile launches.

Sunday's launch was the fifth in less than two weeks. Previous tests had preceded Chinese President Xi Jinping's state visit to Seoul, and were seen by some analysts as a show of pique at his decision to visit Seoul before Pyongyang. 

In between the launches, Pyongyang has also made several peace overtures, including a proposal for both sides to halt all provocative military activity.

Seoul dismissed the offers as "nonsensical" in the light of Pyongyang's nuclear programme. It also made it clear that the annual joint drills are non-negotiable.

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Source:
AFP
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