N Korean mis­sile tests raise ten­sions

No warn­ing given to ves­sels

Taranaki Daily News - - World -

Seoul – North Korea fired two short-range mis­siles into its east­ern wa­ters yes­ter­day, a South Korean of­fi­cial said, an ap­par­ent test fire that comes just days af­ter the coun­try tested what it called new pre­ci­sion-guided mis­siles.

The De­fence Min­istry of­fi­cial said the mis­siles were fired from Won­san in Gang­won Prov­ince and are pre­sumed to be short-range bal­lis­tic mis­siles. The of­fi­cial said North Korea fired the mis­siles with­out des­ig­nat­ing no-sail zones, which the South Korean mil­i­tary views as a clear provo­ca­tion. South Korean me­dia quoted of­fi­cials as say­ing the pro­jec­tiles ap­peared to be Scud mis­siles.

North Korea reg­u­larly test-fires mis­siles and ar­tillery, both to re­fine its weapons and to ex­press its anger over var­i­ous de­vel­op­ments in Seoul and Wash­ing­ton. North Korea has ex­pressed anger in re­cent days with al­leged South Korean ar­tillery test-fires near a dis­puted mar­itime boundary in the Yel­low Sea.

As it un­leashed a tor­rent of rhetoric in state me­dia con­demn­ing an­nual US-South Korean mil­i­tary drills ear­lier this year, Py­ongyang also con­ducted se­ries of mis­sile and ar­tillery tests that boosted ten­sions with ri­val Seoul. The North says it con­sid­ers its ri­vals’ an­nual spring­time drills as prepa­ra­tion for an in­va­sion.

The coun­try said on Fri­day that leader Kim Jong Un guided test launches of newly de­vel­oped pre­ci­sion-guided mis­siles, in a likely ref­er­ence to three short­range pro­jec­tiles South Korean of­fi­cials say the North fired a day ear­lier. There’s vir­tu­ally no way to in­de­pen­dently con­firm whether North Korea has de­vel­oped such hi-tech mis­siles. North Korea has fre­quently bluffed and ex­ag­ger­ated about its mil­i­tary ca­pa­bil­ity, and its army, though one of the world’s largest, is seen as run­ning on out­dated equip­ment and short sup­plies amid the na­tion’s chronic eco­nomic prob­lems, ac­cord­ing to for­eign an­a­lysts.

Still, the im­pov­er­ished North de­votes much of its scarce re­sources to its mis­sile and nu­clear pro­grammes, which sub­se­quently pose a se­ri­ous threat to South Korea, Ja­pan and tens of thou­sands of United States troops in the re­gion. Out­side an­a­lysts say North Korea has de­vel­oped a hand­ful of crude nu­clear de­vices and is work­ing to­ward build­ing a war­head small enough to mount on a long-range mis­sile, al­though most ex­perts say that goal may take years to achieve.

The South has said that North Korea has been try­ing to up­grade its large-cal­i­bre mul­ti­ple-rocket launch sys­tems in re­cent years and that those weapons’ range has been slightly and grad­u­ally in­creased in each test-launch.

Photo: REUTERS

Eye on Isis: As the blame game starts in the US and Bri­tain over who missed the rise of Isis, an Iraqi mil­i­tary he­li­copter pa­trols above Bagh­dad.

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