BY Brian Kates
DAILY NEWS STAFF WRITER
North Korea test-fired another missile Friday - its sixth since Monday's nuclear test - increasing tensions in the region as the Communist regime warned it would act in "self-defense" if provoked by U.N. sanctions.
The North fired the short-range, ground-to-air missile from its Musudan-ni launch site on the east coast, a South Korean government official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The new missile is believed to have a range of about 160 miles.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said no additional U.S. troops would be sent to the region.
"I don't think that anybody in the administration thinks there is a crisis," Gates told reporters aboard his military jet early Friday.
In Washington, the Army's top officer, Gen. George Casey, expressed confidence that the U.S. could fight a conventional war against North Korea if necessary, despite continuing conflicts elsewhere.
North Korea, meanwhile, warned it would retaliate if provoked.
"If the U.N. Security Council makes a further provocation, it will be inevitable for us to take further self-defense measures," the North's Foreign Ministry said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.
It did not specify what further action it was considering or what it would consider a provocation.
South Korean and U.S. troops increased their surveillance of North Korea on Thursday to its highest level since 2006, when the communist regime tested its first nuclear device.
The United States has repeatedly denied any intention to attack North Korea.
About 28,000 American troops are stationed in South Korea. North Korea's military numbers about 1.2 million men, making it one of the largest in the world.
Meanwhile, U.N. Security Council talks over possible sanctions for the nuclear test were moving forward slowly.
Russia's U.N. ambassador said Thursday there was wide agreement among key world powers on what a new U.N. resolution should include, but said putting the elements together will take time because the issues are "complicated."
Diplomats said a draft of the proposed resolution is not expected to be circulated until next week.
The two Koreas technically remain at war because they signed a truce, not a peace treaty, in 1953.