SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea showed no signs of preparing to launch additional missiles Saturday, a day after the communist nation test-fired a barrage into the sea, South Korea's military said.
Friday's actions came in apparent response to the new South Korean government's tougher stance on Pyongyang.
"So far, there are no more unusual moves with regard to that," an official of the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said of the possibility of more missiles being fired Saturday. He spoke on customary condition of anonymity citing office policy.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, a conservative who took office last month, has said he would take a harder policy line on the North — a change from a decade of liberal Seoul governments who avoided confrontation to maintain a "sunshine policy" of engagement.
His government downplayed Friday's tests as part of routine training.
The North launched three ship-to-ship missiles in the waters off the peninsula's west coast at around 10:30 a.m., according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency. On Saturday, the newspaper Chosun Ilbo said the missiles flew about 12 miles and fell harmlessly into the sea.
The move — and the North's warning on the same day that it would not tolerate provocative actions near the disputed western maritime border — came after Seoul withdrew officials from a joint industrial zone at Pyongyang's request.
That was prompted by the North's anger over South Korean statements that any expansion of the project in the border city of Kaesong would only happen if the North resolved the international standoff over its nuclear weapons.
North Korea regularly test fires missiles, and its long-range models are believed able to possibly reach as far as the western coast of the United States. The country conducted its first-and-only nuclear bomb test in October 2006, but it is not known to have a weapon design able to fit inside a missile warhead.
Also Friday, the North's Foreign Ministry blamed the United States for the deadlock in their nuclear talks and warned it would slow ongoing disablement of its atomic facilities.
Pyongyang shut down its sole operating nuclear reactor and has taken steps to disable it under a deal reached last year with the United States and other regional powers. However, negotiations on further disarmament have hit an impasse over whether the North fully declared its nuclear programs.
In Washington, the White House criticized the missile launches.
"This kind of activity is not constructive," presidential spokesman Gordon Johndroe said.
North Korea should instead focus on delivering a complete list of all its nuclear weapons activities and on finishing the agreed-upon disablement of its nuclear program, said Johndroe.