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DPRK may test-fire 4 missiles: S. Korea

THE Democratic People's Republic of Korea prepared to test-fire missiles at launch pads on both its coasts, reports and experts said yesterday, as the Republic of Korea beefed up its naval defenses.

The moves further heightened soaring tensions in the region following North Korea's underground nuclear test last week.

North Korea may soon launch three or four mid-range missiles, believed to be modified versions of its Rodong series, from its east coast, South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported.

An American military official confirmed an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the United States was being readied at a base on the North's west coast.

The United Nations Security Council is considering measures to punish the North for the nuclear test, and US Deputy Secretary of State James Steinberg said yesterday that Washington was looking for "creative ideas.?

"There are a number of very creative ideas that we are sharing with partners,?he said after a talk with Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso in Tokyo.

Pyongyang has countered that it will not accept any punishment and has warned it won't respect the 1953 truce that ended the Korean War if it is provoked.

Fearing skirmishes off its coast, South Korea, whose troops are already on high alert, sent a high-speed ship equipped with guided missiles to its western waters, where the North was reportedly staging amphibious assault training.

The ship is ready to "frustrate North Korea's naval provocation intentions and destroy the enemy at the scene in case of provocations,?the navy said in a statement.

South Korea is also sending coast guard ships to escort fishing boats near the western sea island of Yeonpyeong.


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