World

North Korea conducts fifth missile test in a month

SEOUL: North Korea launched a volley of surface-to-ship cruise missiles off its coast yesterday, Seoul's defence ministry said.

It is Pyongyang's fifth test in less than a month in defiance of global pressure to rein in its weapons programme.

The launches come less than a week after the United Nations expanded sanctions against Mr Kim Jong Un's regime in response to ballistic missile tests.

The South Korean defence ministry said the short-range missiles flew some 200km before falling into the Sea of Japan.

Pyongyang has ordered three ballistic missile launches, a surface-to-air missile, and yesterday's cruise missile tests since the South's President Moon Jae In took power last month.

POLICY CHALLENGE

He had advocated reconciliation with Seoul's isolated and unpredictable neighbour, but has taken a more stern position in the wake of the missile tests, which pose a policy challenge to the left-leaning leader.

"The only thing North Korea will earn through provocations is international isolation and economic hardship, and it will lose opportunities for development," Mr Moon said at a meeting of the National Security Council yesterday, according to Blue House spokesman Park Soo Hyun.

Seoul "will not take a single step back or make compromises over the issue of national security or the safety of its people", Mr Moon's spokesman quoted him as saying.

The latest launch "was aimed at showing off various missile capabilities and antiship precision strike capability", a spokesman for South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff told media.

Cruise missile tests do not contravene UN regulations, Korea Defence Network analyst Lee Il Woo told AFP, adding that they were "much slower than ballistic missiles and can be shot down by anti-aircraft guns". - AFP

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