North Korea test-fires missiles as Obama hosts summit

North Korea test-fires missiles as Obama hosts summit

SEOUL - North Korea test-fired two medium-range missiles Wednesday, as US President Barack Obama hosted a landmark Japan-South Korea summit and pledged "unwavering commitment" to Tokyo and Seoul in the face of Pyongyang's nuclear threat.

South Korea's defence ministry said both ballistic missiles flew 650 kilometres (400 miles) into the Sea of Japan, upping the ante after a series of shorter-range launches by the North in recent weeks.

Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok said the speed and range suggested they were Rodong-class missiles with a maximum range of between 1,000-1,500 kilometres.

"This missile is capable of hitting not only most of Japan but also Russia and China. So it is a fairly dangerous missile," Kim said, adding they appeared to have been fired from mobile launchers near Pyongyang.

UN Security Council resolutions prohibit North Korea from conducting any ballistic missile tests.

North Korea last tested a Rodong missile, also known as Nodong, in July 2009, following UN condemnation of its second nuclear test in May of the same year.

Kim said the tests were clearly timed to coincide with the summit in the Hague between Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-Hye.

"The North is boasting its military capability to grab the attention of the international community," Kim said.

He added that Seoul and Washington would consider taking the issue to the United Nations.

'No signs' of nuclear test

Warning that North Korea could be building up towards a major provocation, Kim said the South was closely monitoring the situation, but added here were "no signs" of Pyongyang preparing an imminent nuclear test.

Over the past four weeks, North Korea has conducted multiple launches of short-range Scud missiles and rockets to coincide with the annual joint military drills South Korea is conducting with the United States.

South Korea condemned the Scud launches as a "reckless provocation" but stopped short of calling for UN sanctions, given the short range and a recent easing of North-South tensions.

The North Korean military had defended the tests as "ordinary military practice".

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