North Korea fired two missiles off it eastern coast Saturday, a South Korean official said.
The missiles were fired at about 8 a.m. local time and the Defense Ministry was trying to confirm whether they were short or mid-range missiles. The ministry official did not give any further details and spoke on condition of anonymity as he was not authorised to speak to media.
A Yonhap news agency report said North Korea fired two short-range missiles that appeared to be Scud missiles. The agency quoted a South Korean government official it did not identify. Yonhap originally reported the missiles were mid-range.
North Korea fired four short-range missiles off the east coast on Thursday.
Speculation had been high that the communist country might launch more missiles in coming days. North Korea had warned shipping to stay away from its east coast effective through July 10.
South Korea’s military said Friday it was closely monitoring North Korean military sites, believing that more missile launches were likely to be launched.
Saturday’s reported launches came on July 4, or US Independence Day. The North has a record of timing missile launches for the US national observance.
In 2006, it fired off a barrage of missiles, including a long-range Taepodong-2 that broke apart and fell into the ocean less than a minute after liftoff. Those launches while Americans were celebrating the Fourth of July holiday also came amid nuclear tensions with the US
The bigger question is whether the North will attempt a long-range missile launch toward the United States, a move that would directly flout a UN sanctions resolution punishing Pyongyang for its May 25 nuclear test.
Firing a ballistic missile on July 4 would be a snub to Washington, which has been trying to muster international support for a tough enforcement of the UN resolution that bans Pyongyang from any further nuclear or ballistic missile tests.
Despite early speculation fueled by Japanese media and the North Korean warning to shipping, spy satellites have apparently not detected any of the preparations that would normally presage a launch.