North Korea Launches 4 Missiles

Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
May 19 2013 12:00 PM

North Korea Launches Four Short-Range Missiles Over the Weekend

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This undated picture, released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 13, 2013 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, accompanied by his wife Ri Sol Ju (2nd L), enjoying a performance given by the Song and Dance Ensemble of the Korean People's Internal Security Forces

Photo by KNS/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea launched a short-range projectile into water off its east coast Sunday, bringing to four the number of launchings carried out this weekend, reports Bloomberg. On Saturday, Pyongyang had launched three missiles, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry. So far, the purpose of the launches remains unknown. Although testing short-range missiles isn’t really that uncommon for Pyongyang, these latest tests come at a time when a tentative calm had emerged in the region after a period of heightened tension, points out the Washington Post

The move comes two months after North Korea apparently launched two missiles off its eastern coast. Tied with this latest launch, the move could support speculation that the country is trying to improve the range and accuracy of its arsenal, points out the Associated Press. Even though South Korea vowed to remain alert, the latest missile launch can be seen as relative good news considering “the move was much less provocative than what had been feared in the tense weeks after the country’s nuclear test in February,” points out the New York Times. Some feared North Korea would seek to back up its recent bluster with a test of longer-range missiles.

“With the short-range missile tests, North Korea is reminding the United States and South Korea that it can escalate tensions again and follow up with more serious steps if things do not go in the direction it wants,” a North Korea analyst tells the Times.

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This post has been updated with new information since it was originally published.

Daniel Politi has been contributing to Slate since 2004 and wrote the "Today's Papers" column from 2006 to 2009. You can follow him on Twitter @dpoliti.

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