Published: Sun, June 18, 2017
World Media | By Joan Schultz

N Korea fires volley of cruise missiles, fifth test in a month


South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff says these were surface-to-ship cruise missiles launched from a base near the city of Wonsan in Gangwon-do Province.

It marked the fifth missile test-fire by the North since liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office May 10.

The move was immediately condemned by South Korea's president, who warned North Korea that the only thing the country has to gain from unauthorized launches is "isolation and economic difficulties".

On May 27, North Korea conducted a surface-to-air guided missile test, believed to be a KN-06.

According to USA Today, the launch marked the fourth new missile system introduced and successfully tested this year alone.

Roh Jae-cheon, spokesman for Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff, said North Korea with the latest launch meant to show off its widening array of missiles and also its "precision strike capabilities" on ships in response to the joint drills.

The launch comes one day after Moon's government suspended the deployment of a controversial United States missile defense system which had strained relations with China and angered North Korea.

While North Korea's previous missile tests this year have broken United Nations Security Council resolutions through their use of ballistic technology - prompting new sanctions last week - Thursday's launches were suspected to have not actually broken Pyongyang's UN commitments.

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North Korea's official media routinely reports on such missile launches the following day.

A TV news program shows a photo published in North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, at Seoul Railway station in Seoul, South Korea, Friday, June 9, 2017.

His British counterpart Matthew Rycroft pointed out that - unlike ballistic missile launches - the cruise missile tests, while "irresponsible" and "destabilizing", probably do not violate United Nations resolutions barring Pyongyang from engaging in ballistic missile activity.

In what will likely become another source of animosities, Moon's government said Thursday that it will let two of the four North Korean fishermen recently rescued at sea resettle in the South in accordance with their wishes.

The short range missiles flew for some 200 kilometres (124 miles) at an altitude of two kilometres before falling into the Sea of Japan, the ministry added. The North's claims could not be independently confirmed.

Jong-un's behaviour led to emergency meetings between US President Donald Trump and allies South Korea and Japan, as well as leaving the rest of the world on edge.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for North Korea's interior ministry lashed at U.S. and global sanctions against the Communist state, adding that such measures would only push the country to further develop its nuclear potential. The improved range indicates North Korea is pursuing weapons capable of reaching US aircraft carriers that operate from deeper positions, he said.

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