21 May 2017

North Korea launches another 'missile test'

9:56 pm on 21 May 2017

North Korea has conducted another missile test, South Korea's military says.

It comes a week after it test-fired a mid-long range missile which experts said marked an advancement in the reclusive state's missile programme.

A picture released by North Korea last month which shows ballistic missiles on display during a military parade.

A picture released by North Korea last month which shows ballistic missiles on display during a military parade. Photo: AFP

South Korea's Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the projectile took off Sunday afternoon from a location near Pukchang, an area where Pyongyang attempted to test-launch another missile last month but failed.

The latest missile flew about 500km, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap. Last week's missile travelled about 700km.

The office did not give further details, but Yonhap News Agency said it was not believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), citing an anonymous source.

A South Korean military official declined to confirm the report but said the military was analysing the launch.

Last Monday, the UN Security Council again demanded that Pyongyang conduct no further such tests.

It stressed the importance of North Korea "immediately showing sincere commitment to denuclearization through concrete action".

But North Korea has defied all calls to rein in its nuclear and missile programmes, even from China, its lone major ally, calling them legitimate self-defence.

It has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of striking the US mainland.

"Today the US mainland and the Pacific operational theatre are within the strike range of the DPRK and the DPRK has all kinds of powerful means for annihilating retaliatory strike," North Korea's state KCNA news agency said in a commentary on Saturday.

North Korea is known to be developing both nuclear weapons - it has conducted five nuclear tests - and the missiles capable of delivering those weapons to their target. Both are in defiance of UN sanctions.

Reaction

Japan has strongly protested to North Korea about the ballistic missile launch it conducted on Sunday as Tokyo cannot tolerate its repeated acts of provocation, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

Mr Suga said the missile was launched around 1659 (Japan time) from North Korea's west coast towards the Sea of Japan and it likely landed outside Japan's exclusive economic zone, without causing damages to ships and airplanes.

The White House said it was aware North Korea had launched a medium range ballistic missile (MRBM) and noted its range was shorter than recent tests.

"We are aware that North Korea launched an MRBM. This system, last tested in February, has a shorter range than the missiles launched in North Korea's three most recent tests," a White House official said.

- BBC / Reuters

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