The missile was believed to be a Scud-class ballistic missile and flew about 450 km (280 miles), South Korean officials said. North Korea has a large stockpile of the short-range missiles, originally developed by the Soviet Union, according to Reuters.
Monday’s launch followed two successful tests of medium- to long-range missiles in as many weeks by Pyongyang, which has been conducting such tests at an unprecedented pace in an effort to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the mainland United States.
The North was likely showing its determination to push ahead with missile development in the face of international pressure to rein it in and “to pressure the (South Korean) government to change its policy on the North”, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman Roh Jae-cheon said.
It was the third ballistic missile test-launch since South Korea’s liberal President Moon Jae-in took office on May 10 pledging to engage the reclusive state in dialogue. Moon says sanctions alone have failed to resolve the growing threat from the North’s advancing nuclear and missile program.
The missile reached an altitude of 120 km (75 miles), Roh said. “So far, the assessment is there was at least one missile but we are analyzing the number of missiles,” he said.
North Korea, which has conducted dozens of missile tests and tested two nuclear bombs since the start of 2016 in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, says the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.
It should be recalled that Kim Jong Un supervised the test of a new anti-aircraft weapon system and ordered its mass production and deployment throughout the country, the state news agency reported on Sunday.