N.Korea fires Scud missiles as US-S.Korea hold drills
By AFP March 4, 2014, 3:51 pm TWN
Seoul - North Korea fired short-range Scud missiles off its east coast for the second time in a week, drawing condemnation from Washington and Seoul as the allies held joint military exercises.
South Korea called Monday's missile launches a "reckless provocation" while the United States demanded the North show restraint and abide by UN Security Council resolutions.
The two Scud missiles "flew in a northeasterly direction and landed in the sea," Pentagon spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Damien Pickart told AFP.
The United States is "closely monitoring the situation on the Korean peninsula," he said.
The missile tests have clearly been timed to coincide with annual South Korea-US military exercises that started a week ago and run until mid-April.
The two missiles flew around 500 kilometres (310 miles) into the Sea of Japan, according to South Korea's Defence Ministry.
Four short-range Scud missiles were fired in similar fashion on Thursday.
Both tests were denounced by Seoul, which urged the North to cease all testing immediately and said it would consider calling for sanctions.
"The North is taking a double-faced stance by making conciliatory gestures on one hand and pushing ahead with reckless provocation on the other," said Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok.
The Scuds are at the longer edge of the short-range spectrum, with an estimated reach of 300-800 kilometres -- capable of striking any target in the South.
Washington said the missile tests breached UN resolutions that require Pyongyang to abandon its ballistic missile programme.
"We urge North Korea to refrain from provocative actions that aggravate tensions and instead focus on fulfilling its international obligations and commitments," including UN resolutions, said State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki.
The North must "exercise restraint and take steps to improve its relations with its neighbours," she added.
It is not unusual for North Korea to carry out such tests, which often go unreported by South Korea.
But South Korea said the Scud firings were of particular concern.
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