N. Korea fires ballistic missile ahead of nuclear talks
SEOUL North Korea fired what appeared to be a "submarine-launched ballistic missile", Seoul said yesterday, a day after Washington and Pyongyang announced they would resume stalled nuclear talks.
Pyongyang frequently couples diplomatic overtures with military moves, as a way of maintaining pressure on negotiating partners, analysts said.
A proven submarine-based missile capability would take the North's arsenal to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and a "second-strike" capability in the event of an attack on its military bases.
The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected a ballistic missile early yesterday fired around 450km in an easterly direction at a maximum altitude of 910km.
The missile was "believed to be one of the Pukkuksong models", the statement said, referring to submarine-launched ballistic missiles under development by the North.
"Such actions by North Korea to raise tensions are not helpful to efforts to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and we urge it again to stop immediately," it added.
The US said it was monitoring the situation. One of the projectiles fell into waters within Japan's exclusive economic zone, Tokyo said.
"The launching of ballistic missiles violates UN Security Council resolutions and we strongly protest and strongly condemn it," Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said.
The launch came a day after the North's Vice-Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui said Pyongyang had agreed to hold working-level talks with Washington later this week.
The two sides will have "preliminary contact" tomorrow and hold negotiations the following day, Ms Choe said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. - AFP