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    North Korea defies UN ban, fires 7 ballistic missiles

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    North Korea test launched seven ballistic missiles from its eastern coast Saturday, the Yonhap news agency reported citing South Korea's military

    MOSCOW, July 4 (RIA Novosti) - North Korea test launched seven ballistic missiles from its eastern coast Saturday, the Yonhap news agency reported citing South Korea's military.

    "North Korea fired a seventh missile at 17:40 [8:40 GMT]. We believe it was launched from the same launch site as the other ones," a South Korean Defense Ministry official who declined to be identified said.

    The official said the missiles are Scud-type and flew up to 500 kilometers (300 miles) to fall in the Sea of Japan.

    South Korea and Japan resolutely condemned the tests calling the country's actions "provocational, violating UN Security Council resolutions and aimed at escalating tensions in northeast Asia."

    The launches have also been condemned by the U.S. State Department. Russia and China voiced concern over the tests.

    North Korea is reported to have about 600 Scud missiles, including Hwasong-5 with a range of 300 km (190 miles) and Hwasong-6 (500 km) missiles.

    The reclusive Communist state also conducted four test launches of short-range missiles on Thursday.

    Japanese and South Korean intelligence sources have said the North appears to be preparing to test-launch two intercontinental ballistic missiles, in defiance of the new United Nations sanctions, but South Korean media said Thursday there were no signs of the North preparing to launch long-range missiles in the near future.

    The reclusive communist regime is banned from conducting nuclear tests or launches of ballistic missiles under UN Resolution 1718, which was adopted following North Korea's first nuclear test on October 9, 2006.

    However, Pyongyang carried out a second nuclear test on May 25 this year followed by a series of short-range missile launches, and has threatened to build up its nuclear arsenal to counter what it calls hostile U.S. policies.

    The move led to the UN imposing new sanctions on North Korea banning the import and export of nuclear material and all weapons except small arms.

     

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