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NKorea provokes UN as it test-fires sixth missile.

Summary: North Korea test-fired another short-range missile off its east coast on Friday and said it would take more "self-defense measures" if the United Nations Security Council punished it for

North Korea test-fired another short-range missile off its east coast on Friday and said it would take more "self-defense measures" if the United Nations Security Council punished it for this week's nuclear test.

South Korea said an increasingly aggressive North may be preparing fresh moves after Chinese fishing boats were spotted leaving a disputed sea border on the west coast.

South Korea and the United States put their troops on the Korean peninsula on higher alert on Thursday, and Seoul's defense ministry said forces were keeping a close watch on the land and sea border with the North. UN sanctions

U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, en route to a regional security meeting in Singapore, accused the North of "very provocative, aggressive" actions.

But Gates said he was unaware of any unusual troop movements in the North, which has around 1.1 million soldiers, compared with 680,200 South Korean and 28,520 U.S. troops south of the border.

"I don't think there is a need for us to reinforce our military presence in the South. Should the North Koreans do something extremely provocative militarily, then we have the forces to deal with it," he added.

Regional powers are waiting to see what the North might do next. Many speculate it may opt for a naval skirmish in disputed waters off the west coast, which should be getting crowded as the lucrative crab fishing season starts.

In New York, the United States and Japan circulated a draft U.N. Security Council resolution to key members, condemning Pyongyang's second nuclear test and demanding strict enforcement of sanctions after the North's first atomic test in October 2006.

It called for enforcement of sanctions imposed after Pyongyang's 2006 nuclear test, which included a limited trade and arms embargo that had been widely ignored. A vote could come as early as next week, diplomats said.

Self-defense measures

North Korea, in its first response to threatened sanctions, said it would take "self-defense measures" if it was punished.

It gave no details other than to say such a move would nullify the armistice that ended the 1950-53 Korean War. It has previously said that truce was already dead.

Yonhap quoted an unnamed government source as saying the North fired the short-range rocket from its Musudan-ri missile base around dusk, making it the sixth to be launched since the nuclear test. Most of the missiles are believed to have a range of around 130 km (80 miles).

The two Koreas fought two deadly naval skirmishes on their disputed maritime border in the past 10 years and the North has warned another could happen soon.

"Our forces are watching these movements (by Chinese fishing boats) with the view that they could be signs that indicate the possibility of North Korea's aggression," Defense Ministry spokesman Won tae-jae said.

The 1999 and 2002 clashes were in June, the peak of the three-month crab season when fishing fleets jockey for the best spots near the contested maritime border.

A U.S. State Department delegation, including special envoy on North Korea Stephen Bosworth, was planning to visit Japan, China, Russia and South Korea. All are members of now frozen six-party negotiations to persuade the North to give up efforts to build a nuclear arsenal.

But it may be difficult to win support from China, North Korea's dominant trading partner and the nearest it has to a major ally, for much tougher sanctions.

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Publication:Al Arabiya (Saudi Arabia)
Date:May 28, 2009
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