North Korea test fires ballistic missile

North Korea fires a ballistic missile that flew about 700 kilometers. Missile does not appear to be an ICBM.

Ben Ariel,

North Korean flag
North Korean flag

North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Sunday (local time), AFP reported, in what appears to be a test of South Korea's new president who backs engagement with Pyongyang.

The missile flew about 700 kilometers (435 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. The U.S. Pacific Command said it did not appear to be an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The missile test is the latest in a series of nuclear and ballistic missile tests that North Korea has conducted in violation of UN sanctions.

Two weeks ago, Pyongyang carried out a ballistic missile test which appeared to have failed.

On April 16, North Korea attempted to launch a missile - but it blew up in the sea. Experts claim they may also have publicly displayed an ICBM during a parade marking the 105th birthday of North Korea's founder.

New South Korean President Moon Jae-In, who was inaugurated on Wednesday, slammed the latest test as a "reckless provocation" after holding an emergency meeting with national security advisors.

He said the government strongly condemned this "grave challenge to the peace and security of the Korean peninsula and the international community," his spokesman Yoon Young-Chan said, according to AFP.

Moon, unlike his conservative predecessors, advocates reconciliation with Pyongyang but warned Sunday that dialogue would be possible "only if the North changes its behavior".

U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened military action against the North but recently appears to have softened his stance, saying he would be "honored" to meet the North's leader Kim Jong-Un under the right conditions.

A senior Pyongyang diplomat said on Saturday the North would be willing to hold talks with the United States if the conditions are right.

In the meantime, Washington is working to defend South Korea from any threats from the North, with the U.S. military's Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system, which was deployed in South Korea, having become operational earlier this month.

The United States and South Korea agreed last year to deploy THAAD in response to the threat of missile launches by North Korea.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe slammed the latest North Korean missile launch as "totally unacceptable" and a "grave threat" to Tokyo.

"We strongly protest against North Korea," he was quoted as having said.