Thursday’s missile launch, announced by South Korea‘s Joint Chiefs of Staff, was the sixth in 12 days and the first since the reclusive regime fired an intermediate-range missile over its neighbour on Tuesday.
That launch, the first of its kind in five years, sparked joint missile drills by South Korea and the United States and a return of a US aircraft carrier to the sea between Korea and Japan.
The Japan Coast Guard said North Korea may also have fired a second missile on Thursday, adding that they both appeared to have landed already.
A Tweet from Japan’s Ministry of Defence confirmed the latest missiles at 6.09am local time, adding: ‘We will let you know as soon as we have further news.’
Separately on Thursday, North Korea condemned the US for repositioning its aircraft carrier in the waters off the Korean peninsula.
The move posed a ‘serious threat’ to the stability in the region, it said in a statement released by the reclusive nation’s foreign ministry.
It comes a day after the US accused China and Russia of enabling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by protecting Pyongyang from attempts to strengthen UN Security Council sanctions, which were imposed over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.
North Korea has fired another ballistic missile towards Japan , South Korea ‘s Joint Chiefs of Staff have said (Pictured: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un)
A surface-to-surface missile is fired into the sea off the east coast of South Korea in a handout picture provided by the country’s Defence Ministry
‘The DPRK (North Korea) has enjoyed blanket protection from two members of this council,’ US Ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, said.
‘In short, two permanent members of the Security Council have enabled Kim Jong Un.’
The 15-member council met on Wednesday after nuclear-armed North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile on Tuesday that soared over Japan for the first time in five years and prompted a warning for residents there to take cover.
China and Russia did not want a public council meeting, arguing that it would not be conducive to easing the situation.
After the meeting on Wednesday, nine Security Council members – the US, Britain, France, Albania, Brazil, India, Ireland, Norway and United Arab Emirates – condemned North Korea’s missile launch in a joint statement.
But China’s deputy UN ambassador, Geng Shuang, said the Security Council needed to play a constructive role ‘instead of relying solely on strong rhetoric or pressure.’
‘Discussions and deliberations should contribute to a detente, rather than fueling escalation. They should promote the resumption of dialogue instead of widening differences and forge unity instead of creating divisions,’ he said.
In May, China and Russia vetoed a US-led push to impose more UN sanctions on North Korea over its renewed ballistic missile launches, publicly splitting the Security Council for the first time since it started punishing Pyongyang in 2006.
A TV screen in Seoul, South Korea, showing a news programme reporting North Korea’s missile launch
Thursday’s missile launch was the sixth in 12 days and the first since it fired an intermediate-range missile over Japan on Tuesday (Pictured: South Korean Air Force F-15Ks and U.S. Air Force F-16 fighter jets fly over the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korea’s intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) launch earlier this week)
Russia’s deputy UN ambassador, Anna Evstigneeva, told the Security Council that ‘introducing new sanctions against DPRK is a dead end’ and brings ‘zero results.’
‘We are convinced that the UN and Security Council mechanisms need to be used to support the inter-Korean dialogue and multilateral negotiations rather than becoming an impediment to them,’ she said.
North Korea has for years been banned from conducting nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches by the Security Council, which has strengthened sanctions on Pyongyang over the years to try and cut off funding for those programs.
In recent years, veto powers China and Russia have suggested U.N. sanctions on North Korea be eased for humanitarian purposes and to entice Pyongyang back to stalled international talks aimed at persuading Kim to denuclearize.
‘This is a clear effort by China and Russia to reward DPRK for their bad actions and cannot be taken seriously by this council,’ said Thomas-Greenfield, referring to North Korea’s formal name – the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
China and Russia blamed joint military exercises by the United States and South Korea for provoking North Korea.
Thomas-Greenfield rejected the remarks, saying there is ‘no equivalency between these two activities.’