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North Korea launches "grave problem", says Japan

Written by: Staff
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BEIJING, July 5 (Reuters) Japan lodged a strong protest over North Korea's missile tests today, calling them a ''grave problem'', a national security threat and a violation of a bilateral agreement.

North Korea launched at least six missiles today, including a long-range Taepodong-2, defying the international community after weeks of warnings to avoid such a provocative step.

''It is a grave problem that North Korea launched missiles in spite of warnings from Japan and other countries,'' said a Japanese Embassy official in Beijing, quoting the statement which the embassy phoned and faxed to the North Korean Embassy on Wednesday morning.

''It is a grave problem for Japan's security and for international peace and stability, and also in terms of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction. The launch of the missiles directly concerns Japan's security and is a violation'' of a Japan-North Korea joint statement, the protest said.

REUTERS SK VV0935

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