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N Korea fires fifth missile in three days

20 May 2013, 14:06

Seoul - North Korea fired another short-range missile into the Sea of Japan on Monday, the latest in a series of missile drills that have been condemned by South Korea and UN chief Ban Ki-Moon.

The latest firing - the fifth in three days - was confirmed by a spokesperson for the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, who said it was unclear if the North was testing guided missiles or rockets from multiple launchers.

"We are still checking on the precise nature of these tests," the spokesperson said.

The North fired three short-range guided missiles off its east coast on Saturday and another on Sunday, apparently as part of a military drill.

Such drills are not unusual but they come at a time of simmering military tensions on the Korean peninsula.

South Korea labelled the weekend missile tests "deplorable" and "provocative", while UN chief Ban Ki-Moon had urged Pyongyang to refrain from any further launches.

"It is time for them to resume dialogue and lower the tensions," Ban said in Moscow.

Following the North's nuclear test in February and subsequent UN sanctions, tensions escalated sharply with Pyongyang issuing near daily threats of retribution against the South and the United States.

Although the situation has calmed somewhat in recent weeks, Pyongyang has continued to denounce a series of South Korea-US joint military exercises which it sees as dress rehearsals for invasion.

At one point, North Korea had been primed to test a pair of medium-range missiles, but US intelligence said the weapons were removed from their launch pads in early May.



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