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Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.
North Korea fired seven surface-to-air missiles into the East Sea on Thursday amid U.S.-South Korea Key Resolve military exercises, South Korea’s Joint Chief of Staff (JCS) told media on Friday.
The launches, which come on the last day of the joint exercises, follow two North Korean short-range ballistic missile launches that coincided with the beginning of the drills earlier in the month.
“The North Korean military fired multiple rounds of ground-to-air missiles into the East Sea from Seondok, South Hamkyong Province, at around 6-7 p.m. yesterday,” the JCS said according to Yonhap News Agency.
Yonhap, which quoted an anonymous source as saying Kim Jong Un had personally guided the test firing, added that the missiles were “presumed to (be) SA-2 and SA-3 types that have a range of dozens of kilometers as well as a SA-5 one that flew some 200 kilometers”.
The SA-5 launch was apparently the first time the missile was tested by Pyongyang, Yonhap added.
North Korean media had not yet reported on the drill as of Friday evening Korean time. Party organ the Rodong Sinmun typically reports on test launches within a day or two of them taking place.
North Korea typically opposes joint U.S.-South Korea military drills, citing them as provocative and often as a dress rehearsal for an invasion of the North. As such, it typically responds by simultaneously conducting its own drills and missile launches, which in turn South Korea and the U.S. describe as provocative.
Meanwhile, China on Friday called for calm following reports of the missile tests. “Maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula is in the common interest of all parties,” China’s foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a press briefing on Friday.
“We hope that, given the current circumstances, the relevant parties can do more things that can ease tensions and increase peace and stability of the region.”
While UN sanctions prohibit North Korea from conducting ballistic missile launches, an editorial by editorial published by North Korea’s Pyongyang Times warned in 2014 of further missile tests.
SA-2, SA-3 and SA-5 series surface-to-air missiles that were developed by the Soviet Union in the 1950s and 1960s and currently operated by countries through Central Asia and Eastern Europe.
Picture: Wikimedia Commons