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A fleet of US warships recently visited Phuket: next it's North Korea

N Korea Fires July 4 Missiles: Phuket Talks Follow

Saturday, July 4, 2009
NORTH KOREA, due to join representatives from 26 other nations for regional security talks on Phuket later this month, test-fired seven more missiles today.

The first firing of two missiles around 8am further increased Asia-Pacific tension, already heightened when the rogue dictatorship tested nuclear weapons and threatened to boost its nuclear arsenal in response to UN sanctions.

Six Scud-type ballistic missiles were fired, with a range of about 500km (312 miles).

South Korea and Japan called the latest tests, coinciding with US Independence Day, an ''act of provocation''.

A Thai official at the Foreign Ministry confirmed on Friday that North Korea has accepted a place at the regional summit on Phuket from July 17-23.

US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is expected to attend, but at this stage it is not clear whether North Korea's Foreign Minister will be a part of their national delegation.

In a dramatic prelude to the Phuket gathering, the Yonhap news agency today quoted a South Korean official as saying: ''North Korea fired two missiles, which appear to be a Scud type, at around 8am today. The missiles are estimated to have the range of about 500 km (310 miles).''

After more missiles were fired, a South Korean defence official said Saturday's tests were of greater concern than Thursday's firing of four missiles. The latest missiles have a longer range.

Concern is mounting in the region that a long-range test could be days away, with some experts speculating that it could even be aimed in the general direction of the US Pacific island state of Hawaii.

United Nations sanctions were imposed following North Korea's May 25 nuclear test.

After test-firing a long-range missile in April, North Korea said it had the right to release the rocket as part of its civilian space program and threatened an intercontinental ballistic missile launch unless the UN Security Council apologised for sanctions.

North Korea has recently been linked more closely with Burma, and accused of assisting the military junta to build a network of suspicious tunnels.

A North Korean cargo vessel, the Kang Nam, is still under surveillance by US warships in the belief that it may be carrying weapons, an act the UN sanctions forbid.

On Thursday the Kang Nam, at first believed to be heading for Burma, reportedly changed direction in the South China Sea and its destination port is now uncertain.

The Kang Nam appears to be carrying conventional small arms, including Soviet-era rifles and anti-tank launchers, a source told Yonhap News today.

''Most of its consignments are believed to be small-scale military supplies such as AK-47 rifles and RPG-7 anti-tank rocket launchers,'' the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity because the information has to do with intelligence.

All six countries involved in discussions designed to reduce North Korea's nuclear ambitions, the US, China, Russia, Japan, plus South and North Korea, are due to be represented on Phuket.

Burma is another strong regional security issue. Currently in Burma, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon is reported to be set to hold a second meeting with the country's top military leaders.

Mr Ban has asked to meet jailed opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi, and says he is awaiting a reply while he remains in the country, the BBC reports.

In his first meeting with General Than Shwe, Mr Ban asked for the release of all Burma's political prisoners.

Ms Suu Kyi's trial on charges of breaking the terms of her house arrest was postponed again on Friday and a BBC correspondent says the delays could mean the military is having second thoughts about the trial.

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Monday July 6, 2020
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa

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