North Korea launches two short-range Scud missiles in breach of UN sanctions
The launch came days before Chinese President Xi Jinping’s scheduled state visit to South Korea. China is the main benefactor of the North, which is also under sanctions for conducting nuclear tests.
The missiles, which appeared to be Scud class, were launched from an area on the east coast of the peninsula and flew about 500 km (310 miles) before crashing harmlessly into the water, an official for the Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The test firings on Sunday came three days after the North launched three short-range projectiles into the waters off its east coast, which flew about 190 km (120 miles) and landed in the sea. Such launches are routine. North Korea frequently test-fires short range multi-rocket launchers, which are not prohibited under UN sanctions on the isolated country.
North Korea’s possession and testing of ballistic missiles such as Soviet-era Scuds, however, breach the sanctions, and are seen to contribute to Pyongyang’s long-range missile programme.
North Korea has so far conducted test firing of its ballistic missiles and rockets 11 times this year, including four involving ballistic missiles. The isolated country usually test-fires its short-range rockets and ballistic missiles amid annual US-South Korean military exercises as a form of protest, observers say.
Pyongyang routinely denounces the joint military exercises as preparation for war. Sunday’s launch came less than a week before Xi’s x 3-4 July visit to South Korea. Xi and South Korea’s Park Geun-hye are expected to discuss North Korea’s nuclear programme in a summit meeting next Thursday.