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N.Korea appears to be preparing to test-launch missiles : report

TOKYO, May 22 (KUNA) -- North Korea appears to be preparing to test-launch short-range missiles, given that it is relocating missile-related equipment and vehicles in its northeast region and banning ships from regional waters, Seoul's media reported Friday, citing officials.
"We have been seeing brisk activities along the North's northeast coast over the past two to three days, indicating trucks mounted with mobile rocket launchers are on the move," a South Korean defense ministry official told Yonhap News Agency.
A Joint Chiefs of Staff official said the ban on vessels in the northeastern coastal area could be a precursor to a missile test, according to Yonhap. "Such a ban usually comes ahead of a short-range missile test or a live-fire drill," the official was quoted as saying.
According to the Japan Coast Guard, North Korea has warned ships to stay clear of waters within a 130-km radius from the city of Kimchaek in its northeastern region until the end of this month. The ban, effective from 10 a.
m. to 6 p.m., follows North Korea's threats to conduct further missile tests to protest the UN Security Council condemnation of its April 5 rocket launch. Pyongyang says the launch from its northeast coast put a satellite in orbit, while the US and Japan say no object entered space.
North Korea has also threatened to conduct a second nuclear test, raising tension in the region. The North first tested an atomic device in October 2006. North Korea test-fired short-range missiles from the east coast on three occasions over the course of just over a month around this time of the year in 2007. (end) mk.ajs KUNA 221815 May 09NNNN