N. Korea fires ballistic missile into eastern waters

SEOUL-- North Korea on Wednesday test-fired one ballistic missile into eastern waters, South Korea's defense ministry said.

A Seoul ministry official told Xinhua that the ballistic missile was fired at about 6:42 a.m. local time from Sinpo in North Hamgyeong province, in the northeastern part of the country. The missile flew about 60 km into its eastern waters.

It was not known what type of missile it was as the military authorities of South Korea and the United States are still analyzing the firing.

According to Yonhap news agency report, it was not an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or a submarine launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

On March 22, Pyongyang test-launched what was presumed to be a Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile from its eastern region, but it failed as it exploded in midair.

On Feb. 12, North Korea successfully test-fired a new type of intermediate-range ballistic missile, called Pukguksong-2. The US Pacific command estimated Wednesday's launch was the test-firing of the Pukgungsong-2, according to Yonhap.

The test-firing came as combined forces of South Korea and the United States are conducting joint annual spring war games, codenamed Key Resolve and Foal Eagle that are scheduled to end by the end of this month.

A variety of US strategic weapons were mobilized to the war games, including a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, a nuclear-powered submarine and nuclear-capable bombers.

A spokesman of Moon Jae-in, a presidential candidate of the country's biggest Minjoo Party, criticized the missile launch, saying North Korea's repeated military provocations would only isolate the country and cause pressures and sanctions.

A presidential by-election is scheduled for May 9 as former President Park Geun-hye was impeached and arrested last month.

The presidential Blue House held a national security council meeting, chaired by top presidential security advisor Kim Kwan-jin. In attendance at the meeting were presidential chief of staff, ministers of foreign affairs, unification and defense, the intelligence agency chief and senior presidential secretary for security and foreign affairs.

The South Korean government is being led by Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn who is serving as an interim leader.

Seoul's foreign ministry said in a statement that the DPRK's ballistic missile launch was a blatant challenge to the series of UN Security Council resolutions and a threat to peace and security in the Korean Peninsula as well as the whole international community.

Pyongyang is banned from testing any ballistic missile technology under UN resolutions.

Source: Philippines News Agency

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