The United States is downplaying North Korea's launch of four short-range missiles off its east coast.
Pentagon spokesman U.S. Army Colonel Steve Warren Thursday confirmed reports of North Korean missile tests, but said the U.S. military does not consider the launch a provocative action.
"We've seen these types of missile tests fairly regularly," he said. "It's a short-range Scud missile which they are allowed to test. Nevertheless, we always call on the North Koreans to refrain from provocative action."
Click to enlargeIt is not uncommon for North Korea to test-fire short-range missiles. Such tests are believed to partly serve as political messages to the South.
Pyongyang's government has not commented on the latest launches, which come as Seoul and Washington conduct large-scale joint military exercises. The North views the drills as an unacceptable provocation.
Both sides are on heightened alert during the drills. Following a South Korean military exercise in 2010, North Korea shelled a South Korean island, killing four people.
The launch also comes just days after North and South Korea resumed family reunions between those separated by the 1950 Korean War. It was the first time such reunions have been held since 2010, raising cautious hopes of improved inter-Korean ties.
The two Koreas remain in a technical state of war following the conflict, which ended in a truce and not a formal peace treaty.
Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.