South Korea: North Korea fires several short-range missiles


SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired several projectiles believed to be short-range surface-to-ship cruise missiles off its east coast Thursday, South Korea's military said, a continuation of weapons tests that have rattled Washington and the North's neighbors as Pyongyang seeks to build a nuclear missile capable of reaching the continental United States.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement the launch came from the North Korean eastern coastal town of Wonsan, and the projectiles likely flew about 200 kilometers (about 125 miles). The statement said the launches were immediately reported to South Korean President Moon Jae-in but gave no further details.

The North's missile tests present a difficult challenge to Moon, a liberal elected last month who has expressed a desire to reach out to Pyongyang. North Korea, which could have a working nuclear-tipped ICBM in the next several years, may also be the most urgent foreign-policy concern for the Trump administration, which has been distracted by domestic political turmoil and has insisted China do more to rein in the North's weapons activities.

Last week, North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile that landed in Japan's maritime economic zone, prompting protest from both Tokyo and Seoul.

North Korea's weapons tests are meant to build a nuclear and missile program that can stand up to what it sees as U.S. and South Korean hostility, but they are also considered by outside analysts as ways to make its political demands clear to leaders in Washington and Seoul. These demands include the removal of nearly 30,000 U.S. troops in South Korea meant to check North Korean aggression.

The launches Thursday from Wonsan were North Korea's fourth missile test in as many weeks as the country continues to speed up its development of nuclear weapons and missiles.

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