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N. Korea launches short-range projectiles ahead of Park's China tour: source

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

SEOUL, July 1 (Yonhap) -- North Korea launched four short-range projectiles into waters off its east coast, a day before South Korean President Park Geun-hye began a state visit to China last week, a government source said Monday.

"North Korea fired four short-range projectiles from the vicinity of Wonsan into waters in the East Sea in the afternoon of the 26th of last month," said the source, who requested anonymity. "The projectiles are presumed to have been fired with 300mm-caliber multiple rocket launchers."

North Korea launched several short-range projectiles into the East Sea in May despite South Korea's demand to end such provocations that could heighten tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Though any firing of short-range missiles or projectiles by Pyongyang does not constitute violations of U.N. resolutions banning the North from test-firing ballistic missiles, South Korea and the United States consider that as a provocative act.

Park returned home on Sunday after a four-day visit to China that began on Wednesday. In Beijing, she and agreed to work together to make the Korean Peninsula nuclear-free.

While having summit talks with Chinese President Xi Jinping in Beijing, Park called for North Korea's denuclearization and described Pyongyang's goal of simultaneously seeking economic development and nuclear armament as unattainable.

North Korea earlier in the day reacted vehemently to Park's criticisms of its policy, calling them "unacceptable provocations" against its regime's dignity and declaring that its "nuclear capability can never become a bargaining tool and is non-negotiable."

The anonymous Seoul government source said the projectiles launched last week are the same as those fired in May.

"This time, the projectiles traveled about 100 kilometers, shorter than 150 kilometers flown by the projectiles in May," the source said, adding Pyongyang has yet to complete the development of 300mm-caliber multiple rocket launchers for deployment.

North Korea is believed to have been trying to develop 300mm-caliber multiple rocket launchers capable of flying up to 200 kilometers.

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