SEOUL, South Korea - North Korea fired several short-range guided missiles
into the sea off its east coast Friday in an apparent test launch, South Korean
officials and media reports said.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed the launches, but said it was
still investigating how many missiles were fired. The launches were apparently
part of annual exercises conducted by the North, the Joint Chiefs said in a
"The short-range missile launches are believed to be part of a routine
exercise that North Korea has conducted annually on the east and the west coasts
in the past," the statement said.
The missiles were fired from the country's east coast into the sea between
Japan and the Korean peninsula, a Joint Chiefs official said on condition of
anonymity, citing official protocol.
Japan's public broadcaster and other media, citing Japanese and US sources,
reported the missiles were surface-to-ship. Japan's Defense Ministry and Foreign
Ministry could not immediately confirm the reports, but were investigating.
Some reports suggested the North's test was in response to South Korea's
launch of its first destroyer equipped with high-tech Aegis radar technology on
South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited an unidentified Unification Ministry
official as saying the tests would not strain ties because they were apparently
part of regular exercises. North and South Korea are planning to hold Cabinet
level talks on reconciliation efforts next week in Seoul.
"I understand that North Korea test fires short range missiles every year.
It's not likely to have any immediate effect on inter-Korean relations," the
official was quoted as saying.
Public broadcaster NHK said the missiles were shorter-range, and were not
North Korea's existing Rodong or Taepodong I ballistic missiles.
It was not immediately known where the missiles landed.