SEOUL (Dispatches) - North
Korea and South Korea test fired ballistic missiles on Wednesday, the latest volley in an arms race that has seen both countries develop increasingly sophisticated weapons while efforts to get talks going on defusing tension prove fruitless.
South Korea’s presidential office said it conducted its first underwater-launched ballistic missile test on Wednesday afternoon, and that the domestically built missile, fired from a 3,000-tonne-class submarine, flew a set distance before hitting a designated target.
The statement said the weapon is expected to help South Korea deter potential external threats, boost its self-defense posture and promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.
It would make South Korea only the seventh country in the world with the advanced technology and raises the prospect of a regional arms race.
The test followed two short-range North Korean ballistic missile launches detected by South Korea’s military earlier on Wednesday afternoon.
The two missiles launched from a site in central North Korea flew toward the waters of the Korean Peninsula’s east coast, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
The missiles are believed to have landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, the country’s coast guard said.
This comes two days after North Korea said it had successfully tested new long-range cruise missiles inside its own territorial waters, a first missile launch since March.
The North’s official KCNA media outlet reported the test on Monday, adding that the missiles deployed during the test flew 1,500 kilometers (930 miles) before hitting their designated targets.
Experts say the North Korean launches show it is pressing ahead with its arms build-up plans while trying to apply pressure on the United States to resume stalled nuclear talks.