North Korea on Wednesday, test-fired a ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast, South Korea’s military said. The development is ahead of a summit between U.S. and Chinese leaders who are set to discuss Pyongyang’s increasingly defiant arms programme.

The missile flew about 60 km (40 miles) from its launch site at Sinpo, a port city on North Korea’s east coast, the South Korean Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

Sinpo is home to a North Korean submarine base. The launch came just a day before the start of a summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping, where talks about adding pressure on the North to drop its arms development will take centre stage.

 “The launch took place possibly in consideration of the U.S.-China summit, while at the same time it was to check its missile capability,” a South Korean official said.

The missile was fired at a high angle and reached an altitude of 189 km (117 miles), the official said. U.S. officials said the missile appeared to be a liquid-fueled, extended-range Scud missile which only traveled a fraction of its range. Initially, U.S. and South Korean militaries said assessments indicated the latest launch was of a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile which would have been the same kind North Korea test-launched in February.

“We are now certain it was a liquid-fueled Scud,” said a senior White House official, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “It spun out of control after going only a fraction of its range,” the official said. ”Any launch of objects using ballistic missile technology is a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. ”The North has defied the ban, saying it infringed on its sovereign rights to self-defence and the pursuit of space exploration”.

The launch drew swift condemnation from Japan, with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe saying further provocative action was possible. Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga described the launch as “extremely problematic” and said Tokyo had lodged a strong protest. South Korea’s Foreign Ministry also condemned the launch as a blunt challenge to series of UN Security Council resolutions targeting North Korea’s nuclear and missile programme.

Seoul called a National Security Council meeting and vowed to respond strongly in case of further provocations. In a terse statement, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said: “The U.S. has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment”.

Source:Nigeria News Today. Your online Nigerian Newspaper