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S. Korea leader warns North after latest missile launch

UNITED NATIONS — North Korea’s latest launches of several suspected anti-ship missiles were short-range and landed well short of past efforts, but they still served as a defiant message for its enemies that Pyongyang will continue to pursue a weapons program that has rattled its neighbors and Washington.

The projectiles were fired Thursday from the North Korean eastern coastal town of Wonsan and likely flew about 200 kilometers (125 miles), South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. They landed in waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan, where U.S. aircraft carriers USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan participated in joint exercises with the South Korean navy that ended earlier this week.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a liberal who has expressed a desire to reach out to Pyongyang, said during a National Security Council meeting he “won’t back off even a single step and make any compromise” on the issue of national security. He warned that North Korea could only face further international isolation and more economic difficulties.

The North’s missile tests present a difficult challenge to Moon. North Korea, which could have a working nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile in the next several years, may also be the most urgent foreign policy concern for the Trump administration, which has been distracted by domestic political turmoil and has insisted China do more to rein in the North’s weapons activities.

South Korean military spokesman Roh Jae-cheon said the launch was intended to show off Pyongyang’s widening arrange of missiles and also its “precision strike capabilities” on ships in response to the joint drills.