Friday, 5 October 2012

North Korea test-fired short-range missile last week: source

North Korea last week test-fired one short-range missile off its west coast a day after South Korean President Lee Myung-bak presided over a meeting of security ministers, a government source said Thursday.

North Korea fired a surface-to-ship missile into the Yellow Sea on Sept. 27 and the launch could be related to the security ministers' meeting, the source said on the condition of anonymity.

"The missile was estimated to have flown about 80-90 kilometers," the source said.

A day before the launch, Lee and top security officials decided to urge North Korea to halt any attempt to affect South Korea's presidential election and reaffirmed their pledge to strongly punish the North in case of provocations.

"The test-firing could be a part of the North's routine efforts to improve their capabilities and range, but there was an assessment that it could be a reaction to our government's movement," the source said.

In recent years, it has not been unusual for North Korea to conduct short-range missile tests.

The security ministers' meeting took place amid heightened tensions around the Yellow Sea border between the two Koreas in the wake of numerous intrusions by North Korean fishing boats. The South's Navy fired warnings shots to repel North Korean vessels on Sept. 21.

Some analysts suspect the string of violations, along with other propaganda campaigns, could be part of an attempt by the communist nation to raise tensions in order to cause social division in the South ahead of December's presidential election. (Yonhap News)

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