North Korea fires another ballistic missile despite sanctions threats

2017-05-21 15:25
A man passes by a TV news programme showing a file image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the railway station in Seoul, South Korea. (Ahn Young-joon, AP)

A man passes by a TV news programme showing a file image of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at the railway station in Seoul, South Korea. (Ahn Young-joon, AP)

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Seoul - North Korea on Sunday test-fired a ballistic missile, the latest in a series of launches which have sparked international condemnation and threats of tougher UN sanctions.

South Korea described the launch, the second in a week and the eighth this year, as "reckless and irresponsible" while the US military stressed "ironclad commitment" to defend its allies in the region.

The missile, described by Washington as a medium-range one, was fired from Pukchang in South Pyongan province and travelled about 500km, according to the South's armed forces.

"Our military is closely monitoring signs for additional provocation by the North Korean military and we are keeping a full military readiness," said a statement from the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The launch came just one week after the North fired a Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missile, which according to Pyongyang flew almost 800km and was capable of carrying a "heavy" nuclear warhead. Analysts said the Hwasong travelled further than any previous ballistic missile launched by the North.

The May 14 launch was seen as a significant step forward as the North accelerates efforts to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the continental United States.

The launches, and a threatened sixth nuclear test, have fuelled tension with the administration of US President Donald Trump, who has vowed that such an ICBM launch "won't happen".

A White House official visiting Saudi Arabia with Trump appeared to play down Sunday's firing.

"We are aware that North Korea launched an MRBM (medium-range ballistic missile). This system, last tested in February, has a shorter range than the missiles launched in North Korea's three most recent tests," the official said on condition of anonymity.

The UN Security Council met behind closed doors last Tuesday to discuss tightening sanctions on North Korea after its May 14 launch.

Read more on:    south korea  |  us  |  north korea  |  military  |  north korea nuclear programme

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