North Korea Launches Nearly 50 Rockets Over Weekend

North Korea over the weekend fired off nearly 50 short-range rockets in yet another apparent protest to ongoing U.S.-South Korea military drills.

Pyongyang launched 16 rockets from its eastern coast on Sunday, a day after firing 30 projectiles into the ocean from the same location, the Yonhap News Agency reported. North Korea did not give notice of the rocket firings beforehand to civilian ships and aircraft.

The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said its "military has maintained vigilance against additional launches."

North Korea in recent weeks has carried out a number of short-range ballistic missile and rocket launches against a backdrop of U.S.-South Korea armed forces maneuvers. Pyongyang condemns the yearly drills and accuses the two countries of using them as a cover to plot an invasion of the North. Still, the Kim Jong Un regime's show of force this year has stopped well short of last year's, which included the deployment of intermediate-range ballistic missiles to North Korea's eastern coast and threats of nuclear war.

Meanwhile, the leaders of South Korea, Japan and the United States are preparing to hold a rare trilateral summit in The Hague, Netherlands, where North Korea's nuclear work will be the main focus of discussions, Agence France-Presse reported. The meeting -- happening on the margins of the global Nuclear Security Summit -- will be the first time that South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have spoken in person since each came to power in late 2012.

It is not clear if the three-way meeting will take place on Monday or Tuesday.

On Sunday, Abe said he intended to use the summit "to make it the first step to build a future-oriented Japan-South Korea relationship."

Relations between the two East Asian nations have been on the rocks lately. South Korea has protested recent remarks and actions by Abe government officials that minimized Japanese World War II-era war crimes. Washington has been pushing for Seoul and Tokyo to mend fences, though, so that they can focus on improving bilateral and trilateral efforts to deter and contain North Korea.

March 24, 2014
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North Korea over the weekend fired off nearly 50 short-range rockets in yet another apparent protest to ongoing U.S.-South Korea military drills.