N Korea tests 5 missiles
North Korea test-fired five short-range missiles off its east coast yesterday and banned ships from the area from October 10-20, a South Korean official said.
The official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, confirmed a Yonhap news agency report of the launches.
The official, speaking to AFP on condition of anonymity, also said the North has warned fishing boats to stay clear of parts of its coast from October 10-20 -- indicating more possible launches.
Yonhap news agency said the missiles were fired from south of Musudan-ri.
The launches were the first reported since early July, when the North fired four short-range missiles believed to be surface-to-ship types.
It followed these with a salvo of seven longer-range ballistic missiles on July 4, apparently to mark US Independence Day, attracting sharp criticism from the United Nations.
The North has frequently launched short-range missiles off its east and west coasts in recent years. South Korean defence officials describe these as part of military exercises but the launches are sometimes timed to make a political point.
The North is under pressure to return to six-nation nuclear disarmament talks. It quit the forum in April and staged its second nuclear test in May.
Last week the North told visiting Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao it was willing to return to the talks but only after direct negotiations with the United States.
Washington has said it is ready for bilateral talks but merely to persuade the North to return to the multilateral forum. It has not set a date for such talks.