Conflicts & War

North Korean missile launch threatens regional security: Suga

(Update 2: Adds South Korean, Russian gov’t comments pars 9-12)

Tokyo/Seoul, Mar 25 (efe-epa).- Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga on Thursday condemned North Korea’s launch of two short-range ballistic missiles as its foreign ministry lodged a formal protest against Pyongyang.

Suga told reporters that the first missile was fired shortly after 7 am local time (22:00 GMT on Wednesday) and that the second was launched about 20 minutes later.

They flew between 420 and 430 kilometers before falling into the Sea of Japan (East Sea), outside Japan’s territorial waters and exclusive economic zone, according to the government.

The launches “threatened the peace and security of Japan and the surrounding region” and are in violation of the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, Suga said.

The government lodged a formal protest against North Korea with its embassy in Beijing, Kyodo news reported. The complaint was lodged in China as Japan and North Korea do not maintain diplomatic relations.

Following the launches, Suga convened an extraordinary meeting of the National Security Council in Tokyo.

“We will closely cooperate with the United States, South Korea and other countries to firmly protect people’s peaceful lives,” he told reporters afterwards, adding that he would discuss policies over North Korea with US President Joe Biden next month.

Meanwhile, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the missiles were fired from the eastern town of Hamju, South Hamgyong Province, at 7.06 am and 7.25 am and flew around 450 kilometers at an altitude of 60 kilometers, according to Yonhap news outlet.

The South Korean presidential office also called an emergency meeting of its National Security Council at 9 am local time and afterwards expressed “deep concern” and vowed to hold consultations with international allies.

On an official visit to Seoul, Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov said that in a meeting with South Korean counterpart Chung Eui-yong, he had “emphasized the importance of efforts to maintain peace and stability in Northeast Asia, as well as on the Korean Peninsula.”

“All concerned countries have to renounce an arms race and activation of all kinds of military activities,” he added.

Chung said he asked Russia to “continue to play a constructive role going forward.”

The missile launch is the regime’s second weapons test in a week after it launched two cruise missiles on Sunday.

Cruise missiles do not violate UNSC resolutions, however ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons do.

It comes at a time marked by North Korean pressure to resume the denuclearization dialog while Washington conducts a review of its strategy to deal with Pyongyang.

The last time North Korea tested projectiles with a ballistic trajectory was on March 29 last year, when it conducted tests with the so-called KN-25 system, described by the North Korean regime as a “super-large” multiple rocket launcher.

However, the size and range (more than 300 kilometers) of the projectiles that this system fires, which could have been tested again Wednesday, makes them classified as short-range ballistic missiles.

Based on a self-imposed moratorium to facilitate dialog with the US, North Korea has not tested intercontinental ballistic missiles since November 2017 and its last nuclear test dates from September of that year. EFE


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