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North Korea fires more projectiles into sea off its coast, South says

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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) — North Korea on Monday fired more projectiles into the sea off its east coast, South Korean officials said, urging Pyongyang to refrain from “tension-creating acts.”

The South Korean Defense Ministry still needs to analyze exactly what the North has been firing for the past three days, said Choi Yong-su, an official in the ministry’s spokesperson’s office.

They could be short-range missiles or a new kind of large-caliber artillery rocket, according to the ministry.

The North fired three projectiles into waters off its east coast on Saturday and a fourth on Sunday. It fired two more on Monday, Choi said.

The short-range launches haven’t so far caused major concern in Seoul or Washington. North Korea last fired this kind of projectile as recently as March, according to South Korea.

The office of South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday that the North “should not engage in tension-creating acts,” Yonhap reported.

This month’s launches come after Pyongyang had last week criticized the presence of a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in a South Korean port and its reported participation in joint naval drills.

The stop in Busan by the U.S.S. Nimitz and its strike group signified a move “to escalate the tension and ignite a nuclear war against” North Korea, the state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun said in a commentary last week.

Prior to the Nimitz’s arrival, tensions in the region had eased from a period during March and April that included near daily North Korean threats of war against South Korea and the United States.

U.S. and South Korean officials feared at that time that Kim Jong Un’s regime was planning to carry out a test launch of longer-range ballistic missiles, believed to be Musudans. The South Korean government says Musudans have a maximum range of 3,500 kilometers (2,175 miles).

Andrew Salmon, a journalist and author based in the South Korean capital, Seoul, said North Korea’s short-range launches Saturday should not cause the same degree of concern as the launch of a satellite or medium-range Musudan missile.

“It’s a short-range tactical weapon. If any other country launched this kind of weapon, it’s a routine test, nobody would be too worried. It’s really simply because it’s North Korea doing this that it raises concerns,” he said.

South Korean officials haven’t so far said any of the projectiles were aimed at the South.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula flared in recent months after the North’s long-range rocket launch in December and underground nuclear test in February, both of which were widely condemned.

Pyongyang’s fiery rhetoric intensified in March as the U.N. Security Council voted to tighten sanctions on the regime following the nuclear test.

Annual U.S.-South Korean military drills in South Korea also fueled the North’s anger, especially when the United States carried out displays of strength that included nuclear-capable B2 stealth bombers.

North Korea is demanding recognition as a nuclear power, something the United States refuses to accept.

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