North Korea appeared to have fired another ballistic missile off its east coast today, South Korean officials said, as regional leaders met in Washington to discuss the threat of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.
It was the latest in a series of North Korean missile launches during what has been an extended period of elevated military tension on the Korean peninsula, triggered by Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test on January 6.
South Korea’s defence ministry said the missile was fired at around 12:45pm (0345 GMT) from the eastern city of Sondok. The range and trajectory could not immediately be confirmed, a ministry official said.
The launch came in the middle of a two-day nuclear security summit being hosted by Barack Obama in Washington, at which North Korea has been the focus of the US president’s talks with the leaders of China, South Korea and Japan.
Obama spoke yesterday of the need to “vigilantly enforce the strong UN security measures” imposed on the North after its latest nuclear test and subsequent long-range rocket launch.
Pyongyang’s state media has labelled the summit a “nonsensical” effort to find fault with the North’s “legitimate access to nuclear weapons.”
Existing UN sanctions ban North Korea from conducting any ballistic missile test, although short-range launches tend to go unpunished.
Last month, the North upped the ante by test-firing two medium-range missiles, which were seen as far more provocative given the threat they pose to neighbours like Japan.