World Bulletin / News Desk
North Korea launched missiles from its eastern coast for a second time this week on Sunday, as tensions continue to linger between the Koreas.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) told reporters that the projectiles -- “presumed to be scuds” -- were fired “from the vicinity of Wonsan at about 4:50 a.m. and 4:58 a.m. into the East Sea.”
The JCS also confirmed that they were short-range missiles with a range of about 500 kilometers – leading to suspicions that they were the same Scud-C ballistic missiles fired by North Korea in March, which would be banned under United Nations resolutions.
In addition to three other short-range missiles fired on Thursday, the North has now carried out 11 such tests this year -- with four involving suspected ballistic projectiles.
A South Korean military official told local news agency Yonhap on the condition of anonymity that these developments are viewed as an attempt by the North to show “that it owns a variety of means to strike South Korea.”
“Testing the South Korea-U.S. combined defense readiness seems to be another purpose of the North's surprise firing of ballistic missiles at dawn,” the official added.
The timing was also notable given that Chinese President Xi Jinping is set to visit South Korea this Thursday.
China is a traditional ally of North Korea’s, but relations between Seoul and Beijing continue to strengthen – South Korean President Park Geun-hye assumed office in February 2013, at around the same time as her counterpart Xi.
Last week, the North had accused the South of firing shells into its waters along their sea border.
But having received no warning for the benefit of civilian flights or vessels this weekend, it did not take long for a response from Seoul.
While the South Korean military heightened its vigilance, the country’s defense minister nominee vowed to prioritize setting up an indigenous missile defense system.
“The defense ministry will push for early establishment of the KAMD [defense system] and the Kill Chain amid growing North Korean nuclear and missile threats,” Han Min-koo said at a parliamentary confirmation hearing just hours after the North’s tests.
The Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD) would offer protection against low-flying missiles, while the ‘Kill Chain’ would allow the pre-emptive destruction of missile and nuclear facilities.
Last Friday, the North had claimed that its leader Kim Jong-un had overseen test launches of new precision-guided missiles.
Along with repeated threats of nuclear war, propaganda footage prompted speculation earlier this month about whether the reclusive country had added a cruise missile to its arsenal.
The two Koreas are still technically at war, as the Korean War of 1950-53 ended in an armistice rather than a peace treaty.Last Mod: 29 Haziran 2014, 14:49