North Korea fires seven missiles to defy the US

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The Independent Online

North Korea fired seven ballistic missiles off its eastern coast yesterday, according to South Korea, in a violation of UN resolutions and an apparent message of defiance to the US on Independence Day.

The launches came two days after North Korea fired what were believed to be four short-range cruise missiles. They are likely to escalate tensions in the region as the US tries to muster support for tough enforcement of the latest UN Security Council resolution imposed on the communist regime for its May nuclear test.

South Korea's joint chiefs of staff said three missiles were fired yesterday, a fourth around noon and three more in the afternoon. The missiles are believed to have flown more than 250 miles.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted military officials as saying the missiles appeared to be a type of Scud. But Yonhap also said it is possible they could have been longer-range Rodong missiles.

Scuds have a range of up to 300 miles, which could hit most of South Korea. Rodongs can travel up to 800 miles, putting most of Japan in striking distance.

North Korea is not allowed to fire Scuds or any longer-range missiles, which are banned under UN resolutions that prohibit any launch using ballistic missile technology.

In Tokyo, Takeo Kawamura, the chief cabinet secretary, said the launch of missiles "is a serious act of provocation against neighbouring countries".

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