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N. Korea Monday fired two missiles, not three: ministry

All Headlines 11:50 May 27, 2009

By Sam Kim

SEOUL, May 27 (Yonhap) -- North Korea fired two short-range missiles on the day it conducted its second nuclear test, one less than earlier reported, the South Korean defense ministry said Wednesday.

On Monday, North Korea announced it detonated a nuclear device underground in an effort to enhance its nuclear arsenal. The country, which performed its first atomic test in 2006, launched short-range missiles off its east coast hours later in apparent saber-rattling.

The Ministry of National Defense in Seoul said its intelligence officials initially detected one launched at noon and the other around 5:00 p.m.

Ministry spokesman Won Tae-jae said in a briefing that the noon launch did not take place.

"It's now two on Monday and three on Tuesday," Won said. North Korea fired a total of three short-range missiles on its east coast the day after the nuclear test. The latest launch took place Tuesday night.

Won declined to say what led to the misinformation, but media reports said a U.S. reconnaissance unit mistook an experimental operation for an actual firing.

Officials say North Korea has also banned ships from the waters off its west coast, suggesting the communist state is preparing to launch short-range missiles there.

In 2006, North Korea had coupled its first nuclear test with the launch of seven missiles, including a long-range one. The country, which fired its most advanced rocket April 5 this year in a widely disputed attempt to orbit a satellite, is believed to have 800 missiles.

samkim@yna.co.kr
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