North Korea fired five short-range projectiles into the East Sea (Sea of Japan) Thursday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said to South Korean media.
The North Korean military launched three rockets from a location near Wonsan, Kangwon Province, on the east coast at 9:30, 9:40 and 9:55 a.m. Korea Standard Time. The projectiles flew to a range of 220 kilometers (137 miles) and fell into the sea.
North Korea fired two more projectiles, also presumed to be 300mm rockets, from the same location at 12:56 and 1:05 p.m., Yonhap News Agency reported.
JCS spokesman Um Hyo-sik told reporters that the projectiles were presumed by the South Korean military to be rockets from the 300mm KN-09 multiple rocket launcher. He also said that Pyongyang did not impose a no-fly and no-sail zone ahead of the launch to notify foreign airlines and ship operators of the potential danger.
North Korean state media has yet to report on the launches. Over the past few months, Pyongyang has released reports and images of many of its rocket and missile launches through the Korean Central News Agency and Rodong Sinmun.
The launches were conducted shortly before Pope Francis arrived in the South Korean capital of Seoul at 10:15 a.m. The pope will be in Korea for a 5-day visit which is to include planned talks of inter-Korean reconciliation.
The JCS believes that the launches were either a part of North Korea’s effort to increase the range of their rockets or a display of will.
Last week, the South Korean government proposed high-level inter-Korean talks to ease tensions, but North Korea has not yet been responsive, stating only that South Korea must cease its joint U.S.-ROK military exercises to make headway.
The 220-kilometer range achieved in this launch is the furthest yet reported for the KN-09 MRL system. Some experts have suggested the longer ranges reported in association with the KN-09 by the South Korean military may, in fact, be some type of short-range ballistic missile, such as the Russian OTR-21 Tochka (also known by its NATO reporting name, SS-21 Scarab) or some type of anti-ship missile, possibly even the Kh-35.
Photo: Rodong Sinmun
Doyun Kim contributed to this report.
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