North Korea fired three short-range guided missiles into its eastern waters on Saturday, a South Korean official said. It routinely tests such missiles, but the latest launches came during a period of tentative diplomacy aimed at easing tensions.
The North fired two missiles Saturday morning and another in the afternoon, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said by phone. He said the North’s intent was unclear. His ministry said it is watching North Korea carefully in case it conducts a provocation against South Korea.
North Korea recently withdrew two mid-range “Musudan” missiles believed to be capable of reaching Guam after moving them to its east coast earlier this year, U.S. officials said. The North is banned from testing ballistic missiles under U.N. Security Council resolutions.
In response to Saturday’s missile test, the U.S. said threats or provocations will only further isolate North Korea from the rest of the world and undermine international efforts to bring peace and stability to Northeast Asia.
The United States and Japan are participants in six-nation nuclear disarmament talks along with North and South Korea, Russia and China. North Korea walked out of the talks in 2009 after the United Nations condemned it for a long-range rocket launch.
North Korea possesses an array of missiles. U.S. and South Korean officials do not believe the North’s claim that it has developed nuclear warheads small enough to place on a missile. Last week in Washington, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and President Barack Obama warned North Korea against further nuclear provocations.