Friday, March 18, 2016 12:18 am
North Korea keeps stoking the fire of conflict in the Korean peninsula as it fired a ballistic missile on Friday off its east coast.
The missile flew about 800 km (500 miles) into the sea, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported.
The launch comes amid heightened tension on the Korean peninsula with the North remaining defiant in the face of the latest U.N. Security Council resolution adopted earlier in the month in response to a nuclear test conducted in January.
South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the missile was likely a medium-range Rodong-missile. If confirmed, it would mark North Korea’s first test of a medium range missile, capable of reaching Japan, since 2014.
The missile was launched from north of the capital, Pyongyang, flying across the peninsula and into the sea off the east coast early Friday morning, the South’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
It appeared the North may have fired a second missile soon after from the same region, with a projectile disappearing from radar at an altitude of about 17 km, it added.
South Korea did not confirm the type of the missiles. But 800 km was likely beyond the range of most short-range missiles in the North’s arsenal. The North’s Rodong missile has an estimated maximum range of 1,300 km, according to the South’s defence ministry.
A U.S. official told Reuters in Washington that it appeared to be a medium-range missile fired from a road-mobile launcher.
The U.S. State Department said in a statement it was closely monitoring the situation and urged North Korea to focus on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments and obligations.
Japan quickly condemned the launch, lodging a protest with North Korea through its embassy in Beijing, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament.
“Japan strongly demands North Korea to exercise self-restraint and will take all necessary measures, such as warning and surveillance activity, to be able to respond to any situations,” Abe said.