SEOUL - North Korea conducted two back-to-back tests of a powerful new medium-range missile on Wednesday, with both achieving a significant increase in flight distance over previous failed launches, South Korea’s Defence Ministry has said.
Both tests were believed to be of a much-hyped, intermediate-range Musudan missile capable of reaching as far away as Guam.
The US State Department strongly condemned the launches, saying they represented clear violations of UN resolutions banning North Korea from any use of ballistic missile technology.
The first test shortly before 6:00 am local time was deemed to have failed after reportedly flying around 150 kilometres over the Sea of Japan.
The South Korean defence ministry said the second Musudan -- fired from the same east coast location two hours later -- had flown 400 kilometres.
"South Korea and the United States are conducting further analysis," the ministry said in a statement that stopped short of labelling the second test a success or failure.
North Korea had previously carried out four failed Musudan tests this year, all of which either exploded on the mobile launch pad or shortly after take-off.
Today’s tests came with military tensions still running high following Pyongyang’s fourth nuclear test in January and a long-range rocket launch amonth later that saw the UN Security Council impose its toughest sanctions todate on the North.
During the party congress in May, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un had personally extended an offer of military dialogue with the South.
The proposal was repeated several times by the North’s military, but Seoul dismissed all the overtures.– AFP