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Three recent missile tests in North Korea over the past several weeks were anti-ship cruise missiles fired during exercises that were not unusual for North Korean military forces at this time of year, the official said.

“Those who are looking at the six-party process and where we are today with [the Banco Delta Asia funds transfer] are very disappointed,” the senior official said. “This doesn’t build confidence. This is a time that is very tense and we want to go to implementing the 13 February agreement. So even though this is a normal exercises, I think there is an element of disappointment that North Korea would move in that direction.”

North Korea has shown no signs of preparing of another underground nuclear test but “they could have a nuclear test at any time with minimal or no warning,” the official said.

The October test was a “nuclear event” but the blast caused by the test was smaller than North Korea had hoped, the official said.

c Bill Gertz covers the Pentagon. He can be reached at 202/636-3274 or at bgertz