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09:54 AM, May 4, 2019
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S. Korea Bolsters Surveillance As N. Korea Fires Short Range Projectiles Into Sea of Japan
People walk past a screen showing a TV news on unidentified short-range projectiles fired by North Korea, in Tokyo on May 4, 2019 (image: AP)

South Korea has bolstered its surveillance after North Korea fired several unidentified short-range projectiles into the sea of Japan on Saturday.

"Pyongyang on Saturday fired several unidentified short-range projectiles into the sea off its eastern coast," South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff was quoted as saying by AP.

Authorities from Washington and Seoul are analysing the prevailing situation and are checking if Pyongyang fired banned ballistic missiles. It would be the first such launch of a banned missile since the North's November 2017 test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, if proven. 

"The US is aware of North Korea's actions and will continue to monitor the situation," White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said.

In addition, Seoul has upped it's security and surveillance in case there are additional weapons launches, the report stated further.  

Reports emerging from the South initially stated that a single missile was fired, but later issued a statement that said "several projectiles" had been launched and that they flew up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) before splashing into the sea toward the northeast.  

The North may increase these sorts of low-level provocations to apply pressure on the United States to agree to reduce crushing international sanctions, the experts say. 

North Korea wants widespread sanctions relief in return for nuclear disarmament.
The launch comes amid a diplomatic breakdown that has followed the failed summit earlier this year between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over the North's pursuit of nuclear bombs that can accurately target the US mainland. 

Pyongyang probably has viable shorter range nuclear armed missiles but still needs more tests to perfect its longer-range weapons, according to outside analysts.

"North Korea could choose to fire more missiles with longer ranges in coming weeks. It wants to say, 'We have missiles and nuclear weapons to cope up with (US-led) sections' to pressurise the US to come up with a roadmap for nuclear talks by the end of this year," said Nam Sung-wook, a professor at Korea University.

Japan's Defense Ministry said the projectiles weren't a security threat and didn't reach anywhere near the country's coast. Japan will likely avoid any harsh response as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to secure his own summit with Kim.

In April 2019, the country also concluded tests of tactical guided weapons under the supervision of President Kim Jong Un.

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