Seoul: North Korea fires ballistic missile off east coast

The United States believes the projectile was likely a ballistic missile, according to a USA official.

Shortly after the missile launch, Seoul and Tokyo responded with condemnation, calling the test a blunt challenge to U.N. Security Council resolutions and a "path to self-destruction".

South Korea's Foreign Ministry called the North's latest missile launch a "reckless provocation" that posed a threat to worldwide peace, while Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the country lodged a strong protest over the launch.

In his statement, Tilerson said: "They have been "playing" the United States for years", he said referring to North Korea.

In response, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson only offered a 23-word statement: "North Korea launched yet another intermediate range ballistic missile".

US ally South Korea has lashed out at the communist nation over the launch on Wednesday into the sea off the Korean Peninsula.

Pyongyang has continued work to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the U.S. mainland with a nuclear warhead and has so far staged five nuclear tests.

All options are on the table.

United Nations resolutions bar North Korea from developing nuclear and missile technology.

The European Union on Thursday expanded sanctions against North Korea over the country's nuclear tests and launches of ballistic missiles.

The new missile could cover all of North Korea even when fired from a southern region of the country, it said.

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"I've joked before that they don't mind being hated, but they definitely hate to be ignored", Ralph Cossa, president of the Pacific Forum CSIS think tank in Honolulu, said after Wednesday's launch.

The KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile flew around 40 miles (60 kilometers), South Korea's defence ministry said.

The first test of the year was an intermediate-range KN-15 on February 12 that reached an altitude of 550 kilometers and flew 500 kilometers before crashing into the East Sea. The letters read "North Korea fired a ballistic missile into its eastern waters".

The lower house adopted the resolution with 394 votes in favour and only one against, weeks after Pyongyang tested a rocket engine and after multiple missile and nuclear tests by the Communist regime.

Sinpo is home to a North Korean submarine base.

A KN-11 submarine launched missile was successfully launched from waters off Sinpo last August that traveled 310 miles into the Sea of Japan.

The launch will fuel global concerns about the hermit state s weapons programme.

The mobile launcher is concerning because it's harder to detect and preemptively strike, according to Carl Schuster, a professor at Hawaii Pacific University and former director of operations at the US Pacific Command's Joint Intelligence Center. But "a solid (fueled) rocket can be rolled out and launched at a moment's notice".

North Korean war bosses launched the missile towards Japan as USA troops, warships and helicopters amass on the doorstep of the totalitarian state.

United States officials said the missile launched on Wednesday appeared to be a liquid-fueled, extended-range Scud missile that only travelled a fraction of its range before spinning out of control. "It should be concerning everyone because it will be improving the chance to use their offensive capabilities better". North Korean leader Kim Jong Un boasted about the launch, describing it as "the greatest success".

  • Sonia Alvarado