North Korea fires short-range missile for 2nd consecutive day


A North Korean soldier watches from his quarters at the truce village of Panmunjom in the demilitarised zone on April 23, 2013.


Kim Jae-Hwan

North Korea fired a short-range missile off its east coast — away from South Korea — Sunday, a day after three of the same missiles were launched, a South Korean military officer said.

"North Korea fired a short-range missile as it did yesterday into its east sea in the afternoon," the officer told Yohnap, a South Korean news agency.

The launch comes as United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called on North Korea to cease missile tests, calling them "a provocative action."

It's not uncommon for the North to test its short-range missiles, but recent threats of nuclear war against Japan, South Korea and the United States have put the region on edge.

"I hope that North Korea will refrain from such actions," Ban told RIA Novosti, a Russian news agency, adding, "It is time for them to resume dialogue and lower the tensions. The United Nations is willing to help."

While tensions on the Korean Peninsula have calmed, especially after the US and South Korea concluded their routine joint military exercises, the issue of North Korea's nuclear program remains unresolved.

Relations between the North and South have not significantly improved, and as a grave sign, earlier this month the North withdrew about 53,000 workers from the industrial zone it shares with the South, which soon did the same.

In February, Pyongyang conducted its third underground nuclear bomb test, which the UN Security Council followed with a tough new round of sanctions against the North. The US and its allies say North Korea must dismantle its nuclear program as a precondition for talks.

In April, North Korea said that would never happen, with its state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper saying, "If [North Korea] sits at a table with the US it has to be a dialogue between nuclear weapons states, not one side forcing the other to dismantle nuclear weapons."  

On Saturday, Caitlin Hayden, a UN Security Council spokeswoman, said North Korea “will achieve nothing by threats or provocations.” 

“We continue to urge the North Korean leadership to heed President Obama’s call to choose the path of peace and come into compliance with its international obligations,” she added.