North Korea Launches Series of Ballistic Missiles

Pyongyang fired a short-range missile ahead of the anniversary in 2014, and has attempted launches of an intermediate-range Musudan missile ahead of the ruling Workers Party of Korea convention in May.

The missiles were fired from a region south of the capital Pyongyang just after noon local time (0300 GMT) and flew about 1,000 km (600 miles), hitting Japan's air defense identification zone, the South's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

North Korea's latest test comes during the middle of the Group of 20 (G20) summit in Hangzhou, China, where tensions on the Korean peninsula are among the hot-button issues being discussed by world leaders on the sidelines.

Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada reportedly called the launch a "serious threat" to the country's national security.

For many years now North Korea has been relentlessly trying to flawless its nuclear program by conducting four nuclear tests and developing ballistic missiles that could be topped with nuclear warheads. The most recent was a submarine-launched ballistic missile last month.

Also on Saturday, President Xi met with US President Barack Obama.

According to The Wall Street Journal, 74% of South Koreans supported the installation of the THAAD missile shield, but there is opposition primarily focussed on strained relations with China, the South's largest economic partner.

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White House National Security Council spokesman Ned Price said that USA officials were "closely monitoring these latest provocations".

South Korea's Yonhap news agency says it is unknown what type of missiles were fired, and how far they traveled. The State Department said the launches violate numerous UN Security Council Resolutions prohibiting North Korea from using ballistic missile technology.

As you mentioned, today's launches coincide with the G20 summit in China where the upcoming deployment of the THAAD missile defense system to South Korea is being hotly debated by the leaders of South Korea, the U.S., China and Russian Federation. She said the South Korean people's concerns regarding the North's threats are warranted, following the North's long-range missile firing in June and submarine-launched ballistic missile firing in August.

Following the latest missile launch, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said: "We've noted the reports".

While the launch of the three Rodong missiles is allegedly North Korea's protest against the G20 Summit, the Communist state's ally, China, stated that the presence of the United States' Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea might have something to do with the North's aggressive act of protest.

USA expert in North Korean studies Bruce Bechtol recently raised suspicions that China may have provided its own SLBM JL-1 to North Korea, based on the similarities of the Chinese missile and the KN-11.

The incident comes just days before North Korea celebrates her 68 anniversary as a nation, and after South Korea and USA troops ended their annual joint military drills.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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