Seoul: North Korea fires 3 short-range projectiles

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Seoul: North Korea fires 3 short-range projectiles
North Koran defectors prepare to release balloons carrying leaflets condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his government's policies, in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. The activists launched balloons carrying about 200,000 anti-North Korea leaflets over the border on Friday when North Korea marks the 69th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party. The letters on balloons read "End the world's worst three generation dictatorship and Down with Kim Jong Un." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
North Koran defectors prepare to release balloons carrying leaflets condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his government's policies, in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. The activists launched balloons carrying about 200,000 anti-North Korea leaflets over the border on Friday when North Korea marks the 69th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
South Korean marine LVT-7 landing craft sail to shores through smoke screens during the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises called Ssangyong, part of the Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea, Monday, March 31, 2014. South Korea said North Korea has announced plans to conduct live-fire drills near the rivals' disputed western sea boundary. The planned drills Monday come after an increase in threatening rhetoric from Pyongyang and a series of rocket and ballistic missile launches in an apparent protest against the annual military exercises by Seoul and Washington.(AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
North Koran defectors watch the sky as they release balloons carrying leaflets condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his government's policies, in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. The activists launched balloons carrying about 200,000 anti-North Korea leaflets over the border on Friday when North Korea marks the 69th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
North Koran defectors prepare plastic bags containing leaflets condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his government's policies, for attaching to balloons in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. The activists launched balloons carrying about 200,000 anti-North Korea leaflets over the border on Friday when North Korea marks the 69th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Leaflets condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his government's policies are dropped from balloons which were released by North Koran defectors in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. The activists launched balloons carrying about 200,000 anti-North Korea leaflets over the border on Friday when North Korea marks the 69th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
People watch a TV news program showing the missile launch conducted by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, June 26, 2014. North Korea fired three short-range projectiles Thursday into the waters off its east coast, a South Korean defense official said. The move was most likely a routine test-firing, but the official said it could also be meant to stoke tensions with Seoul. The writing on the screen reads "The missiles were launched to alert and express its internal solidarity." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A man watches a TV news program showing the missile launch conducted by North Korea, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Thursday, June 26, 2014. North Korea fired three short-range projectiles Thursday into the waters off its east coast, a South Korean defense official said. The move was most likely a routine test-firing, but the official said it could also be meant to stoke tensions with Seoul. The writing on tje screen reads "The missiles were launched to alert and express its internal solidarity." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
Korean People's Army (KPA) officers and soldiers vow to smash the "U.S. imperialists" as they gather for a meeting to mark the 64th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in South Hwanghae Province, North Korea. The writing on the sign in foreground left reads "Don't forget the wolfish American imperialists!" (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
Pyongyang citizens march through the Kim Il Sung Square while chanting slogans and holding posters denouncing the United States to mark the 64th anniversary of the start of the Korean War in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, June 25, 2014. Posters read: "Thousand-fold revenge" and "Severe Punishment." (AP Photo/Kim Kwang Hyon)
Korean People's Army (KPA) officers and soldiers fire their weapons during an event marking the 64th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in South Hwanghae Province, North Korea. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
Korean People's Army (KPA) officers and soldiers fire their weapons during an event marking the 64th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in South Hwanghae Province, North Korea. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
Korean People's Army (KPA) officers prepare to fire their pistols during an event marking the 64th anniversary of the start of the Korean War, Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in South Hwanghae Province, North Korea. (AP Photo/Jon Chol Jin)
A South Korean marine LVT-7 landing craft sail to shores through a smoke screen during the U.S.-South Korea joint landing exercises called Ssangyong, part of the Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea, Monday, March 31, 2014. South Korea said North Korea has announced plans to conduct live-fire drills near the rivals' disputed western sea boundary. The planned drills Monday come after an increase in threatening rhetoric from Pyongyang and a series of rocket and ballistic missile launches in an apparent protest against the annual military exercises by Seoul and Washington. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
South Korean and U.S. Marines aim their machine gunds during the U.S.-South Korea joint landing exercises called Ssangyong, part of the Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea, Monday, March 31, 2014. South Korea says North Korea has announced plans to conduct live-fire drills near the rivals' disputed western sea boundary. The planned drills Monday come after an increase in threatening rhetoric from Pyongyang and a series of rocket and ballistic missile launches in an apparent protest against the annual military exercises by Seoul and Washington. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
In this photo provided by the Ongjin County, residents of Yeonpyeong Island rest as they evacuate from their homes to a shelter on the island, South Korea, near the West Sea border with North Korea, Monday, March 31, 2014. North and South Korea fired artillery shells into each other's waters Monday, a flare-up of animosity between the rivals that forced residents of five front-line South Korean islands to evacuate to shelters, South Korean officials said. (AP Photo/The Ongjin County)
South Korean marine LVT-7 landing craft sail to shores through smoke screens during the U.S.-South Korea joint military exercises called Ssangyong, part of the Foal Eagle military exercises, in Pohang, South Korea, Monday, March 31, 2014. South Korea said North Korea has announced plans to conduct live-fire drills near the rivals' disputed western sea boundary. The planned drills Monday come after an increase in threatening rhetoric from Pyongyang and a series of rocket and ballistic missile launches in an apparent protest against the annual military exercises by Seoul and Washington. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
A South Korean Marine stands on a beach as amphibious assault vehicles (in background) approach the seashore during a joint landing operation by US and South Korean Marines in Pohang, 270 kms southeast of Seoul, on March 31, 2014. Meanwhile, the two Koreas traded hundreds of rounds of live artillery fire across their disputed maritime border, forcing South Korean islanders to take shelter a day after the North drove up tensions by threatening a new nuclear test. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean Marines take a position on a beach during a joint landing operation by US and South Korean Marines in Pohang, 270 kms southeast of Seoul, on March 31, 2014. Meanwhile, the two Koreas traded hundreds of rounds of live artillery fire across their disputed maritime border, forcing South Korean islanders to take shelter a day after the North drove up tensions by threatening a new nuclear test. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean Marine amphibious assault vehicles land on the seashore during a joint landing operation by US and South Korean Marines in Pohang, 270 kms southeast of Seoul, on March 31, 2014. North Korea announced a live-fire drill on March 31 near its disputed maritime border with South Korea, further ratcheting up tensions a day after threatening a 'new form' of nuclear test. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
US (L) and South Korean (bottom) marines take a positon during a joint landing operation by US and South Korean Marines in Pohang, 270 kms southeast of Seoul, on March 31, 2014. North Korea announced a live-fire drill on March 31 near its disputed maritime border with South Korea, further ratcheting up tensions a day after threatening a 'new form' of nuclear test. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
South Korean Marine amphibious assault vehicles land on the seashore during a joint landing operation by US and South Korean Marines in Pohang, 270 kms southeast of Seoul, on March 31, 2014. North Korea announced a live-fire drill on March 31 near its disputed maritime border with South Korea, further ratcheting up tensions a day after threatening a 'new form' of nuclear test. AFP PHOTO / JUNG YEON-JE (Photo credit should read JUNG YEON-JE/AFP/Getty Images)
North Koran defectors prepare to release a portrait of deceased North Korean defector Hwang Jang-yop by hanging it from balloons carrying leaflets condemning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his government's policies, in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 10, 2014. The activists launched balloons carrying about 200,000 anti-North Korea leaflets over the border on Friday when North Korea marks the 69th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party. The letters on the portrait read " Down with Kim Jong Un." (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon)
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By HYUNG-JIN KIM
Associated Press

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea fired three short-range projectiles Thursday into the waters off its east coast, a South Korean defense official said. The move was most likely a routine test-firing, but the official said it could also be meant to stoke tensions with Seoul.

The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of department rules, said the projectiles flew about 190 kilometers (120 miles) before harmlessly landing in the water. The projectiles were fired from North Korea's eastern port city of Wonsan, and the South Korean military was investigating the type of projectiles and the North's intentions, the official said.

Short-range test firings by North Korea aren't unusual, but a barrage of missile and artillery tests earlier this year boosted animosity between the rivals.

North Korea has in recent months threatened South Korea's leader, calling her a prostitute, and the South has vowed to hit North Korea hard if provoked. North Korea's rising anger coincided with annual joint military exercises by the U.S. and South Korea and a visit to Seoul by President Barack Obama. North Korea also test-fired two medium-range ballistic missiles and exchanged artillery fire with South Korea near a disputed boundary in the Yellow Sea.

There was also widespread speculation about a possible North Korean nuclear test. North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests since 2006, the latest in February 2013.

Experts believe North Korea has developed a handful of crude nuclear devices and is working toward building a warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile, although most experts say that goal may take years to achieve.

The Korean Peninsula is still technically in a state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty.

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Seoul: North Korea fires 3 short-range projectiles
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Ri Tong Il, calls on a member of the media during his news conference at United Nations headquarters, Monday, March 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Ri Tong Il, responds to a question during his news conference at United Nations headquarters, Monday, March 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
Deputy Permanent Representative of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Ri Tong Il, is surrounded by the media after his news conference at United Nations headquarters, Monday, March 24, 2014. (AP Photo/Richard Drew)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 24: Ri Tong-il, Deputy permanent representative of North Korea to the United Nations, answers questions from reporters at a news conference on March 24, 2014 in New York City. Ri accused the United States of unnecessarily provoking conflict with military excercises, among other claims. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 24: Ri Tong-il, Deputy permanent representative of North Korea to the United Nations, speaks at a news conference on March 24, 2014 in New York City. Ri accused the United States of unnecessarily provoking conflict with military excercises, among other claims. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
Ri Tong Il (C), spokeman for North Korean Foreign Minister Park Ui Chun's delegation (not in picture) is interviewed at the main venue of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum in Hanoi on July 22, 2010. Strained US-China military relations will be the elephant in the room as Asia's largest security forum meets in Vietnam on July 23 amid tensions over North Korea, Taiwan and the South China Sea. AFP PHOTO / POOL / HOANG DINH Nam (Photo credit should read HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - MARCH 24: Ri Tong-il, Deputy permanent representative of North Korea to the United Nations, speaks at a news conference at the United Nations while wearing a pin depicting North Korea's founder, Kim Il-sung (L), and Kim's son and second supreme leader, Kim Jong-il, on March 24, 2014 in New York City. Ri accused the United States of unnecessarily provoking conflict with military excercises, among other claims. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)
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