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North Korea fires salvo of short-range ballistic missiles

SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea has fired several short-range ballistic missiles, Seoul’s military said yesterday, the latest in a volley of tests by Pyongyang this year.

South Korea’s military said it had detected the launch of “several short-range ballistic missiles” from the Pyongyang area, which flew around 300 kilometres (km) before splashing down into waters east of the Korean peninsula.

“This missile launch is a blatant provocation that threatens peace and stability of the Korean peninsula,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, adding that the military was maintaining “full readiness”.

Tokyo also confirmed the launch, with Japanese government spokesman Yoshimasa Hayashi saying one missile had a maximum altitude of 50km and landed outside of the country’s EEZ.

The launch is the second in less than a week by Pyongyang, which on Friday tested a “super-large warhead” designed for a strategic cruise missile, state media said. Seoul’s military confirmed it had detected cruise missile launches at the time.

Pyongyang’s recent track record on launches indicates the North is trying to push its technical abilities, said a senior analyst at the Korea Institute for National Unification Hong Min.

“Today’s launch also appears to be a part of its weapons development programme that needs testing rather than ones that are fully developed,” he told AFP.

A television screen shows a file image of North Korea’s missiles launch at the Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea. PHOTO: AP