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South Korea: North launches 3 short-range missiles

SEOUL, South Korea -- North Korea fired three short-range guided missiles into its eastern waters yesterday, a South Korean official said. It routinely tests such missiles, but the latest launches came during a period of tentative diplomacy aimed at easing tensions.

The North fired two missiles in the morning and another in the afternoon, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok sai. He said the North's intent was unclear.

In March, North Korea launched what appeared to be two KN-02 missiles off its east coast. Experts believe the country is trying to improve the range and accuracy of its arsenal.

North Korea recently withdrew two midrange "Musudan" missiles believed to be capable of reaching Guam after moving them to its east coast earlier this year, U.S. officials said. The North is banned from testing ballistic missiles under UN Security Council resolutions.

Earlier this year, North Korea threatened nuclear strikes on Seoul and Washington because of annual U.S.-South Korean military drills and UN sanctions imposed over its third nuclear test in February. The drills ended late last month.

Analysts say the recent North Korean threats were partly an attempt to push Washington to agree to disarmament-for-aid talks.

In response to yesterday's missile test, the United States said threats or provocations will only further isolate North Korea from the rest of the world and undermine international efforts to bring peace and stability to Northeast Asia.

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