North Korea has reportedly test-launched two medium-range ballistic missiles into the sea, hours after the US, Japan and South Korea met to discuss the country’s arms programmes.
The South Korean defence ministry said that the missiles, identified as Rodong-class, flew 650km into the Sea of Japan. Spokesman Kim Min-seok said that the missiles have a range of 1,000km to 1,500km and are capable of reaching Japan.
The missile launch violates UN Security Council resolutions. It is a development from a series of shorter-range rocket launches in recent weeks by North Korea in an apparent protest of ongoing South Korean and US joint military exercises.
UN diplomats told Reuters that the UN Security Council will hold a closed-door consultation on Thursday to discuss a possible criticism of the country’s latest ballistic missile launches.
Condemning the missile test launches, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s press office issued a statement saying that such launches by North Korea are opposed to building trust in the region.
"The Secretary-General urges North Korea to cease its ballistic missile activities and focus, together with other countries concerned, on the dialogue and diplomacy necessary to maintain regional peace and security," the statement said.
"We are closely co-ordinating with our allies and partners, including in the UN Security Council, to take the appropriate measures in response to this latest provocation and to address the threat to global security posed by North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes."
The US State Department called the test "a troubling and provocative escalation". Deputy spokeswoman Marie Harf said in a statement: "We urge North Korea to exercise restraint and refrain from further threatening actions."