North Korea kicks off fireworks with missile tests

North Korea started the fireworks early by test-firing four short-range, surface-to-ship missiles on Thursday in a defiant gesture that could be followed by mid-range tests in just days.

The missile tests are certain to raise heightened tensions with both the Obama administration and the United Nations, which slapped sanctions on the communist state for its May 25 nuclear test.

The tests also come two days after North Korea apparently tested the willingness to enforce those sanctions. The U.S. Navy had been trailing a North Korean vessel that was believed to be carrying weapons or weapons materials perhaps to Myanmar, but the ship turned around Tuesday and headed back to North Korea.

And on Tuesday, the Treasury and State departments took steps against two North Korean companies in an effort to curtail financing for weapons programs.

The missiles reportedly landed in the Sea of Japan. More missile tests were expected, but it is unknown if North Korea would try another long-range missile during the block on coastal activity that extends through July 11 in 10 areas of the Yellow Sea and Sea of Japan.

A U.S. envoy reportedly met with Chinese official in Beijing on Thursday in an effort to coordinate response to the U.N. sanctions against North Korea. China announced it would be visiting with all players in the six-party talks in an attempt to revive negotiations.

North Korea's official Twitter feed, which carries article links to the state-run Korean Central News Agency, was leading Thursday with "S. Korean warmongers scheme to introduce U.S.-made missiles."