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DPRK fires missile as it warns UN of 'action'

THE Democratic People's Republic of Korea test-fired another short-range missile yesterday and warned it would take "self-defense" action if provoked by the United Nations Security Council, which is considering sanctions against it.

The missile, fired from its Musudan-ni launch site on the east coast, is the sixth short-range missile North Korea has test-fired since Monday's nuclear test.

With tensions high on the Korean Peninsula, Chinese fishing boats left the region, possibly to avoid any maritime skirmishes, Republic of Korea officials said. But United States Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said the situation was not a crisis and no additional US troops would be sent to the region.

North Korea, meanwhile, warned it would retaliate if provoked.

"If the UN Security Council makes a further provocation, it will be inevitable for us to take further self-defense measures," its Foreign Ministry said in a statement.

"There is a limit to our patience," the statement said. "The nuclear test conducted in our nation this time is the Earth's 2,054th nuclear test. The five permanent members of the UN Security Council have conducted 99.99 percent of the total nuclear tests."

The DPRK did not specify what further action it was considering, or what it would consider provocation.

Fears have increased of military skirmishes, particularly in disputed waters off the western coast, after North Korea conducted the nuclear test on Monday and then renounced the truce that has kept peace between the two Koreas since 1953. The waters were the site of two deadly clashes in 1999 and 2002.

From Yeonpyeong, the South Korean island closest to North Korea, about a dozen Chinese ships were seen pulling out of port. More than 280 Chinese vessels were fishing in the area earlier this week, but the number has dropped to about 140.

North Korea says it is merely preparing to defend itself against what it says are plans by the US to overthrow its government.

The US has repeatedly denied any intention to attack the DPRK.

In Washington, the army's top officer, General George Casey, said the US could fight a conventional war against North Korea if necessary. But Gates tried to lower the temperature.

"I don't think that anybody in the Obama administration thinks there is a crisis," he said yesterday.

Meanwhile, talks at the UN Security Council were ongoing. In a draft resolution obtained by Reuters, the Security Council "condemns in the strongest terms" North Korea's nuclear test.

It calls for enforcement of sanctions imposed after Pyongyang's 2006 nuclear test, which included a limited trade and arms embargo.


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