North Korea fired ballistic missile into sea, ignoring the UN ban

Friday, 18 March, 2016 - 15:15

Korea, Republic Of -- North Korea defied UN resolutions by firing a medium-range ballistic missile into the sea on Friday, Seoul and Washington officials said, days after its leader Kim Jong Un ordered weapons tests linked to its pursuit of a long-range nuclear missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the missile fired from a site north of Pyongyang flew about 800 kilometres before crashing off the North's east coast.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff said it wasn't known what type of missile was fired, but a South Korean defence official, requesting anonymity citing department rules, said it is the first medium-range missile launched by the North since April 2014 when it fired two.

The North began to develop ballistic missiles in the 1970s by reverse-engineering Soviet-made Scuds it acquired from Egypt. After several failures it put its first satellite into space aboard a long-range rocket launched in December 2012. Its second successful satellite launch occurred this February. The UN, the U.S. and others say the launches were a banned test of missile technology. Ballistic missiles and rockets used for satellite launches share similar bodies, engines and other technology.

Experts say a militarized version of the rocket the North used to put its second satellite into orbit in February would potentially have the range to reach the U.S. mainland. However, there are questions as none of North Korea's possible candidates for an intercontinental ballistic missile have been tested "end-to-end," from launch through re-entry and warhead delivery, to show they actually work.

The Korean Peninsula officially remains in a state of war as the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. The U.S. deploys about 28,500 troops in South Korea as deterrence against potential aggression from North Korea.