There is renewed concern over North Korea's potential to create instability in the region amid reports that Pyongyang fired two short-range missiles on Wednesday.
South Korean government officials have confirmed the incident, explaining the missiles were aimed toward the East Sea in what was a test by the communist regime to improve its missile capacity. Seoul believes there is no need to attach great significance to the incident as this is not the first time Pyongyang has carried out test launches of ballistic missiles.
The U.S., meanwhile, is urging North Korea to abide by a moratorium on missile tests its leader Kim Jong-il promised to keep in place "in and after 2003" when he met Japanese Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi in September 2002. White House spokesman Scott McClellan added that this latest development was a clear indication of the need to address regional security concerns posed by North Korea.
Earlier Japanese media offered various accounts of the incident. Kyodo News Agency initially quoted a security source in China as saying the missiles had been fired by mistake during a military drill in the direction of China but had landed in North Korean territory instead, reports Chosun.
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