North Korea Launches Missiles for 3rd Straight Day

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SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea launched two short-range projectiles into waters off its east coast for a third straight day on Monday, officials here said, despite warnings from the United States and South Korea against increasing tensions.

The North has conducted six such launchings since Saturday, in what are believed to be tests of short-range guided missiles or rockets from multiple launchers, officials said.

"We remain vigilant for the possibility that the North may launch more," a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Ministry said, insisting upon anonymity until his government made a formal announcement.

He said a projectile was launched in a northeasterly direction on Monday morning, followed by another in the afternoon.

North Korea said the launchings were part of normal military drills. In a statement carried by Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency, the North's Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Fatherland said it was "brigandish sophism" for Washington and Seoul to accuse the North of raising tensions when they recently staged far bigger military exercises involving a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier.

Kim Jang-soo, the national security director at the presidential office in Seoul, responded to the first launching on Monday by affirming South Korea's call for the North to stop firing missiles. He said that the launchings, whether intended to test Pyongyang's weapons or to demonstrate its firepower, "raised tensions," said Kim Haing, a presidential spokeswoman.

After months of bellicose language from the North, relative quiet had appeared to be settling on the Korean Peninsula until Saturday, when the North suddenly launched three missiles or rockets and followed with another launching on Sunday. The moves have rattled the region, where governments remain puzzled about Pyongyang's motives.

North Korea routinely tests its short-range missiles, which are primarily a threat to South Korea and the American military bases there. But analysts say the North's missile tests are often timed to push Washington and Seoul to consider economic and diplomatic concessions.

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This article originally appeared in The New York Times.


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