North Korea fires ‘short-range missile' in latest weapons test as Pyongyang hits out at ‘hostile' forces

© AP

People at Seoul Railway Station on Tuesday watching a TV news report showing a file image of a North Korean missile launch

– AP

North Korea test fired what appeared to be a short-range ballistic missile today as its ambassador to the UN insisted on the reclusive communist state’s right to self-defence against “hostile” forces.

The missile was launched from the central north province of Jagang at around 6.40am local time (22.40pm UK time) towards the sea off its east coast, South Korea said.

Details of the launch were being analysed by South Korean and US authorities. But Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said North Korea fired “what could be a ballistic missile” and that his government had stepped up its vigilance and surveillance.

As the North’s latest missile launch was detected by its rivals, North Korean Ambassador Kim Song used his speech on the last day of the UN General Assembly to justify his country’s development of a “war deterrent” to defend against US threats.

“The possible outbreak of a new war on the Korean Peninsula is contained not because of the US’s mercy on the DPRK, it is because our state is growing a reliable deterrent that can control the hostile forces in an attempted military invasion,” Mr Kim said.

The US Indo-Pacific Command said the launch highlighted “the destabilising impact” of the North’s illicit weapons programmes, while the US State Department also condemned the test.

A ballistic missile launch would violate a UN Security Council ban on North Korean ballistic activities, but the council typically does not impose new sanctions on North Korea for launches of short-range weapons.

Tests of ballistic and cruise missiles earlier this month were North Korea’s first such launches in six months and displayed its ability to attack targets in South Korea and Japan, both key US allies, where a total of 80,000 American troops are stationed.

But at the weekend, Kim Yo-jong, the influential sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, reached out to Seoul, saying her country was open to resuming talks and reconciliatory steps if conditions were met.

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