North Korea fires Scud-class ballistic missile into sea

The third missile test in as many weeks is straining relations with the South and other neighbours. However, China is urging all sides to remain calm and exercise restraint.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

People watch a television broadcasting news report on North Korea firing what appeared to be a short-range ballistic missile, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, May 29, 2017.

North Korea has conducted another missile test off its eastern coast. It's the third test in as many weeks and appears to involve a short-range ballistic missile. Further straining relations with the South. But China's has urged all sides to remain calm and exercise restraint.

The missile was believed to be a Scud-class ballistic missile and flew about 450 km (280 miles), South Korean officials said.

North Korea is likely showing its determination to push ahead in the face of international pressure to rein in its missile programme and "to pressure the [South Korean] government to change its policy on the North," South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman Roh Jae-cheon said.

It was the third ballistic missile test-launch since South Korea's liberal President Moon Jae-in took office on May 10 pledging to engage with the reclusive neighbour in dialogue.

Japan lodged a protest against the test missile, which appeared to have landed in its exclusive economic zone.

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

TRT World's Christine Pirovolakis has the latest.

Monday's launch followed two successful tests of medium to long-range missiles in as many weeks by the North, which has been conducting such tests at an unprecedented pace.

Since the beginning of 2016, North Korea has conducted dozens of missile tests and tested two nuclear bombs in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions saying the programme is necessary to counter US aggression.

The United States has said it was looking at discussing with China a new UN Security Council resolution and that Beijing, North Korea's main diplomatic ally and neighbour, realises time was limited to rein in its weapons programme through negotiations.

US President Donald Trump said North Korea showed disrespect to its major ally China after it fired a short-range ballistic missile on Monday that landed in the sea off its east coast.

"North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile ... but China is trying hard!" Trump said in a post on Twitter.

Testing new capabilities

China reiterated that UN Security Council resolutions had "clear rules" about North Korean missile activities and it urged Pyongyang not to contravene them.

"The situation on the Korean peninsula is complex and sensitive, and we hope all relevant sides maintain calm and exercise restraint, ease the tense situation as soon as possible and put the issue back onto the correct track of peaceful dialogue," China's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Russia condemned the launch and also called for restraint, "including towards military activity," from the partners it was working with, the deputy Russian foreign minister, told the RIA news agency.

Seoul's new liberal administration has said Pyongyang's repeated test launches were dashing hopes for peace.

TRTWorld and agencies