South Korea says the North appears to have fired another missile into the sea off its eastern coast as tensions continue on the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said the projectile was apparently fired from the city of Sondok at around 12:45 p.m. local time (0345 GMT) on Friday.
The range and trajectory of the missile could not immediately be confirmed, according to an unnamed ministry official.
Meanwhile, the South’s Yonhap news agency said the missile seemed to be ballistic.
‘United’ front against North
The Friday launch came amid a two-day global nuclear security summit being hosted by US President Barack Obama in Washington.
Meeting on the sidelines of the conference on Thursday, Obama joined his South Korean counterpart, Park Geun-hye, and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and vowed to step up pressure on Pyongyang in response to its nuclear and missile tests.
“We are united in our efforts to deter and defend against North Korean provocations,” Obama told reporters following the trilateral meeting, underlining the need for the international community “to vigilantly enforce the strong UN Security Council measures” against Pyongyang.
Last month, the 15-member council passed its harshest sanctions against North Korea. The bans had been devised by the US.
Diplomatic solution to the Korean issue
This is while China’s President Xi Jinping called for dialogue to resolve the “predicament” on the Korean Peninsula during the same summit.
“The Chinese side stands ready to make efforts in a constructive way to resume dialogue within the framework of six-party talks,” China’s Xinhua news agency quoted Xi as saying on Thursday during a meeting with his South Korean counterpart in Washington.
The six-party talks he was referring to included Russia, China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and North Korea. The talks stalled in April 2009 after the UN imposed tougher sanctions on Pyongyang for conducting nuclear and missile tests.
Meanwhile, North Korean state media labeled the summit a “nonsensical” effort to find fault with what it described as the North’s “legitimate access to nuclear weapons.”
In another development on Thursday, the European Union (EU) extended its trade and financial sanctions on North Korea.
The 28-nation bloc said the new measures prolonged export and import bans on items that could increase the capability of the country’s armed forces.
The EU also expanded financial embargoes on North Korea, including a new asset freeze on government entities linked to Pyongyang’s nuclear or ballistic missile programs.
Tensions between the two Koreas have escalated since the start of 2015 after the North’s nuclear test in January and its long-range rocket launch in February.
Pyongyang said the rocket launch was aimed at placing an earth observation satellite into orbit. However, Washington and Seoul denounced the move as a cover for an intercontinental ballistic missile test.
North Korea has pledged to develop a nuclear arsenal in an effort to protect itself from the US military, which occasionally deploys nuclear-powered warships and aircraft capable of carrying atomic weapons in the region.
Washington also holds joint military maneuvers with Seoul, which Pyongyang views as preparations for war and a direct threat against its security.