N Korea 'conducts missile tests'

Reports come as South Korea launches first in new generation of naval destroyers.

    North Korea's weapons programmes have been a growing cause of concern across Asia [AP]

    Last month, North Korea displayed a newly developed ballistic missile capable of reaching the US territory of Guam during a massive military parade.


    Timeline: The two Koreas

    1945 Korean peninsula divided following Japanese surrender ending World War II

    1948 Two separate governments formed in North and South

    1950 North Korean army launches surprise attack across border into South, igniting Korean War

    1953 Korean War ends in uneasy truce overseen by the UN

    1971 North and South hold first formal talks since end of war

    1997 Kim Dae-jung elected president of South Korea, pledges "sunshine policy" of engagement with North

    1998 First South Korean tourists visit North's Mount Kumgang resort

    2000 Historic Pyongyang summit between leaders of North and South. First family reunions held

    2003 South Korea begins construction of Kaesong industrial park inside North Korea

    2006 North-South trade reaches $1.35 bn

    2007 First trains since start of Korean War run between North and South

    The parade in Pyongyang featured three new models, including the medium-range missile that can travel 2,500-4,000 km, South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper reported.


    Deadline missed


    North Korea's missile development and its pursuit of nuclear weapons have been a growing cause of concern among its neighbours.


    Under a deal agreed at six nation talks in Beijing in February North Korea agreed to begin shutting down its nuclear programme by April 17.


    However, that deal has been held up in a dispute over frozen North Korean funds held in a Macau-based bank, the Banco Delta Asia.


    "If they were fired towards the Sea of Japan, it may be a
    sign that they are unhappy that the Banco Delta Asia funds are
    not being transferred," Toshimitsu Shigemura, professor at Waseda
    University, told Nippon Television after Friday's reported missile tests.

    "Last time, the missiles were long-range, but this time they
    are short-range, which may mean they don't mean to surprise too
    much. They only want to attract attention."


    In July last year North Korea test-fired a series of missiles in, including its latest long-range model, known abroad as the Taepodong-2, which experts believe could reach parts of the United States.


    In October it conducted its first-ever test of a nuclear weapon.


    However, intelligence experts in the region and in the US say North Korea is still some way off developing a nuclear warhead capable of being placed on a missile.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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