North Korea on Wednesday fired two short-range ballistic missiles from an unexpected location into the East Sea, showing off its evolving missile capabilities, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The firing of what appear to be Scud-missiles is the latest in a recent series of rocket and missile launches by the North. Pyongyang launched two short-range rockets last Wednesday, just three days after it fired two ballistic missiles.
|A model Scud missile displayed in the War Memorial of Korea in Seoul.(Yonhap)|
“The North fired two missiles at 4 a.m. and 4:20 a.m. from North Hwanghae Province without declaring a no-fly, no-sail zone,” said the JCS. “The missiles are evaluated as having a range of around 500 km, and we are maintaining full readiness to counter additional provocations.”
The North appears to have fired Scud-type missiles. It has Scud-B missiles with a range of 300 km, Scud-C missiles with a range of 500 km, Scud-D missiles with a range of more than 700 km, and Scud-ER, an upgraded version of Scud-D missiles.
The North has fired short- and mid-range projectiles 13 times this year. Since Feb. 21, it has launched some 90 projectiles, including Scud and Rodong missiles, and FROG (free rocket over ground) short-range surface-to-surface rockets.
South Korean officials say it was unusual for the North to launch missiles in a northeastern direction from North Hwanghae Province. Pyongyang has usually launched its rockets and missiles from the east coast.
“It seems that the North showed off its capability to launch missiles abruptly from any place in the North,” said a military official, declining to be named.
The North’s latest saber-rattling came after it called for a stop to hostile military activities and announced a plan to send a female cheerleading squad to the Incheon Asian Games. Analysts say that the North was employing its typical “two-faced” strategy to gain economic assistance from the South and flaunt its military clout.
Ahn Chan-il, the head of the World North Korea Research Center, said that through a series of provocative moves, the North intends to increase its diplomatic leverage in future negotiations with the South and the international community.
“When the political landscape in Northeast Asia undergoes changes, the North seeks to increase its leverage through a series of missile and rocket launches,” said Ahn.
“It also wants to send a warning to the South that should Seoul not lift its sanctions against Pyongyang and not resume the long-stalled tours to Mount Geumgangsan, tension will persist on the peninsula.”
By Song Sang-ho (firstname.lastname@example.org