Saturday, July 4, 2009

Wire: Updated - South Korea Says North Korea Fired 7 Missiles Saturday Morning

Off the Wire

Off the Wire:

WASHINGTON, July 4, 2009 -- Newswire services this morning reported that North Korea fired seven ballistic missiles off its eastern coast Saturday, South Korea said.

The Associated Press reported that the launches, which came two days after North Korea fired what were believed to be four short-range cruise missiles, will likely further escalate tensions in the region as the U.S. tries to muster support for tough enforcement of the latest U.N. Security Council resolution imposed on the communist regime for its May nuclear test.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said three missiles were fired early Saturday, a fourth around noon and three more in the afternoon. The Defense Ministry said that the missiles were ballistic and are believed to have flown more than 250 miles (400 kilometers).

"Our military is fully ready to counter any North Korean threats and provocations based on strong South Korea-U.S. combined defense posture," the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

AP noted the following details:
South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted military officials as saying the missiles appeared to be a type of Scud missile. North Korea's Scuds are considered short-range, the South's military said.

But Yonhap also said it is possible they could have been longer-range Rodong missiles fired a shorter distance.

Scud missiles have a range of up to 300 miles (500 kilometers), which could hit most of South Korea. The Rodong has a range of up to 800 miles (1,300 kilometers), putting most parts of Japan within striking distance.

North Korea is not allowed to fire Scuds, medium-range missiles or long-range missiles. They are banned under U.N. resolutions, including Resolution 1874 passed after North Korea's May 25 nuclear test, that prohibit any launch using ballistic missile technology.

Thursday's launches, on the other hand, did not violate the resolution, according to South Korea's Foreign Ministry. Kim Tae-woo, vice president of the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, said it was believed North Korea launched cruise missiles Thursday.

Ballistic missiles are guided during their ascent out of the atmosphere but fall freely when they descend. Cruise missiles fly low and straight to their target.
This is a developing story.

(Report from newswire sources.)

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