Defying U.S., N. Korea Fires Barrage of Missiles
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea fired three missiles into the sea between the Communist state and Japan on Saturday morning, the South Korean military announced.
News reports here called them ballistic Scud or Rodong missiles.
The South Korean military declined to clarify what types of missiles the North had fired. But if the reports were correct, the North Korean tests on Saturday were bound to raise tensions between the North and its neighbors.
A South Korean military official, speaking on condition of anonymity citing government policy, said the missiles launched Saturday were believed to have flown no more than 300 miles, indicating that they might be the North’s Scud-type missiles. The South Korean news agency Yonhap quoted military sources as saying the missiles were either Scud or Rodong missiles.
A statement from the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said the military was “fully ready to counter any North Korean threats and provocations based on strong South Korea-U.S. combined defense posture.”
The latest launchings came on July 4. The North has a record of timing missile tests to coincide with Independence Day in the United States, as a way of highlighting the provocative gestures. Pyongyang fired off a barrage of missiles, including a long-range Taepodong-2, on the Fourth of July in 2006. The Taepodong launching was a failure, with the projectile falling into the sea less than a minute after blastoff.
The United States is currently is leading international efforts to enforce the United Nations resolution, which calls for a global embargo on arms trade with the North.
North Korea has responded by declaring that it would conduct more missile and nuclear tests. Speculation has been running high in South Korea and Japan that the North might launch more missiles in coming days. It had warned shipping to stay away from its east coast through July 10.
North Korea launched a rocket on April 4, in what was widely considered another test of Taepodong-2, designed to be an intercontinental missile capable of carrying a warhead as far as the West Coast of the United States.
Attention has been focused on whether the North would attempt to launch another intercontinental missile, as it has said it would in the wake of the United Nations sanctions. But so far, spy satellites have not detected any signs of preparing a Taepodong launching, South Korean officials said in recent days.
The United States chief of naval operations, Adm. Gary Roughead, said Saturday that 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,” he said in Tokyo after meeting with Japanese military officials in Tokyo, according to The Associated Press.
An earlier version of this article misstated the date of an April rocket test by North Korea. It was April 5, not April 4.