North Korea test-fires two missiles, South Korean officer says

Thursday, June 7, 2007

North Korea test-fired several short-range missiles off its west coast, South Korea's Yonhap news service reported today.

"I believe North Korea launched two missiles into the West Sea today, one in the morning and the other in the afternoon," an unnamed South Korean intelligence official was quoted as saying by Yonhap, the South Korean government news service. The official added that the rockets were either a surface-to-ship type or a ship-to-ship type, both with a range of less than 100 kilometers (60 miles), and landed in North Korean territory.

"North Korea conducts this kind of missile test several times a year," the official was quoted as saying. "We saw the test as part of a routine military exercise."

The last missile test was on May 25, which at the time South Korean and US officials said was routine.

But the latest launches occurred a day after US President George W. Bush and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called on the G8 nations to put more pressure on North Korea to comply with an international agreement to shut down its main nuclear reactor.

The U.S. criticized today's launch as "not constructive."

"The United States and our allies believe that North Korea should refrain from testing missiles," US National Security Council spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement from the G8 summit in Heiligendamm, Germany. "North Korea should focus on the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and fulfill its obligations," Johndroe said, mentioning an international agreement North Korea made on Feb. 13 that it would to shut down its main nuclear reactor in return for financial and diplomatic incentives.