North Korea fires two more short-range missiles

Seoul, May 20 (IANS) North Korea Monday fired two more short-range missiles, a day after UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon urged the regime to return to talks on its controversial nuclear programme.

"North Korea fired one KN-02 short-range missile between 11 a.m. and 12 noon and a second one between 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. on Monday. The second missile is the same type as the KN-02 short-range missile launched on Monday morning," South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted military officials from Seoul as saying.

North Korea has fired a total of six short-range missiles in the same waters.

South Korea's presidential office urged North Korea to stop aggravating tensions on the Korean Peninsula after Pyongyang launched its fifth missile on the third day.

Pyongyang, however, said Monday that the missile launch was only part of normal military training for self-defence purposes, the official KCNA news agency reported.

On Sunday, Ban Ki-moon said he was concerned over Pyongyang's latest missile launches and urged the regime to return to the talks on its controversial nuclear programme.

Yonhap said Pyongyang launched a short-range missile into the East Sea Sunday, a day after firing three missiles into the same body of water.

The communist regime broke off talks with South Korea, China, the US, Japan and Russia on its nuclear programme in 2009, after the UN Security Council passed a resolution condemning its missile tests.

Tensions rose on the Korean Peninsula in December after North Korea tested a Taepodong 2 missile and again in February when it carried out its third nuclear test.

The UN hit back with sanctions, and the start of joint military drills between South Korea and the US in March further irritated the North, which threatened to carry out a nuclear attack on the US mainland, as well as on US forces in the region.

North Korea has been subjected to several rounds of UN Security Council sanctions since it declared itself a nuclear power in 2005.