North Korea fires Scud-class ballistic missile, Japan protests

FILE PHOTO: North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in this handout photo by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) made available on April 26, 2017. KCNA/Handout via REUTERS/File Photo

North Korea fired what appeared to be a short-range ballistic missile on Monday that landed in the sea off its east coast, South Korea’s military said, the latest in a series of missile tests defying world pressure and threats of more sanctions.

The launch was immediately reported to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who called a meeting of the National Security Council at 7:30 a.m. (2230 GMT Sunday), South Korea’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

The missile was believed to be a Scud-class ballistic missile and flew about 450 km (280 miles), the Joint Chiefs said in a statement. North Korea has a large stockpile of Scud missiles, originally developed by the Soviet Union.

Modified versions have a range of up to 1,000 km (620 miles).

North Korea last test-fired a ballistic missile on May 21 off its east coast and on Sunday said it had tested a new anti-aircraft weapon supervised by leader Kim Jong Un.

Pyongyang has conducted dozens of missile tests and tested two nuclear bombs since the start of 2016, in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions. It says the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression

The United States has said it was looking at discussing with China a new U.N. Security Council resolution and that Beijing, the main diplomatic ally of Pyongyang, realizes time was limited to rein in the North’s weapons program through negotiations.

Experts say the North appears to be gaining meaningful data that is fed into its effort to build an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The White House said President Donald Trump had been briefed on the launch. The U.S. Pacific Command said it tracked what appeared to be a short-range ballistic missile for six minutes and assessed it did not pose a threat to North America.

Japan lodged a protest against the North’s latest missile launch which appeared to have landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said.

“This ballistic missile launch by North Korea is highly problematic from the perspective of the safety of shipping and air traffic and is a clear violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions,” Suga told reporters in televised remarks.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed action along with other nations to deter Pyongyang’s repeated provocations.

As we agreed at the recent G7, the issue of North Korea is a top priority for the international community,” Abe told reporters in brief televised remarks. “Working with the United States, we will take specific action to deter North Korea.”

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