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DPRK test-fires two more missiles

THE Democratic People's Republic of Korea tested two more short-range missiles yesterday, a day after detonating a nuclear bomb underground, a news report said.

Two missiles - one ground-to-air, the other ground-to-ship - with a range of about 130 kilometers, were test-fired from an east coast launch pad, the Republic of Korea's Yonhap news agency reported, citing an unnamed government official.

South Korean spy chief Won Sei-hoon informed lawmakers earlier yesterday that a missile test was likely, according to the office of Park Young-sun, a legislator who attended the closed-door briefing.

Yonhap reported that the DPRK was preparing to launch a third missile from a west coast site, again citing an unnamed official.

The DPRK on Monday conducted an underground atomic test in the northeast that the UN Security Council condemned as a "clear violation" of a 2006 resolution banning the country from developing its nuclear program.

France called for new sanctions, while the United States and Japan pushed for strong action against the DPRK for testing a bomb that Russian officials said was comparable in power to those that obliterated Hiroshima and Nagasaki during World War II.

South Korea, meanwhile, announced it would join a maritime web of more than 90 nations that intercept ships suspected of spreading weapons of mass destruction - a move the DPRK warned would constitute an act of war.

The DPRK had threatened in recent weeks to carry out a nuclear test and fire long-range missiles unless the Security Council apologized for condemning Pyongyang's April 5 launch of a rocket the US, Japan and other nations called a test of its long-range missile technology. North Korea said it put a satellite into orbit as part of its peaceful space development program.

Won said Pyongyang warned it would test the bomb unless the head of the Security Council offered an immediate apology. Russia said the test went off at 9:54am local time on Monday. Later the same day, the DPRK test-fired three short-range ground-to-air missiles, according to Yonhap.

US President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak agreed that the nuclear test was "a reckless violation of international law that compels action in response," the White House said in a statement after the leaders spoke by telephone. They also vowed to "seek and support a strong UN Security Council resolution with concrete measures to curtail North Korea's nuclear and missile activities."

Obama also spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso, the White House said, with the leaders agreeing to step up coordination with South Korea, China and Russia.

Obama reiterated the US commitment to defend South Korea and Japan, US and South Korean officials said.

North Korea responded by accusing the US of hostility, and said yesterday its army and people were ready to defeat any American invasion.

"The current US administration is following in the footsteps of the previous Bush administration's reckless policy of militarily stifling North Korea," the North's main Rodong Sinmun newspaper said in commentary.


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