North Korea fires surface-to-ship missiles, claims S. Korea

"North Korea fired multiple projectiles that appear to be short-range land-to-ship cruise missiles today morning off the east coast from the region of Wonsan", said a statement from the South Korean Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff.

South Korea on Wednesday said it will hold off on installing remaining components of the US Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) system that has angered North Korea's main ally, China, amid early signs of easing tensions between the two countries.

Wonsan is located 146 kilometers (91 miles) east of capital Pyongyang and is on the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

The head of the USA military's missile defense program, Vice Adm. James Syring said before Congress Wednesday that the technological advances demonstrated by North Korea in its ballistic missile program in the past six months had caused him "great concern".

The EU said it would freeze the assets of 14 more people and ban their travel to Europe in line with a UN Security Council resolution last week for more sanctions over Pyongyang's ballistic missile tests.

Significantly, newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in called on Wednesday for a suspension of the controversial THAAD deployment.

The United States is increasingly concerned about the nuclear-armed North Korea's missile capabilities, especially its push to acquire intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), Yonhap notes.

Experts, however, have said North Korea now has "precision-guided" missiles which have the ability to frustrate missile defense systems like THAAD.

MAY 10: Moon, a liberal, is inaugurated as South Korea's president, ending almost a decade of conservative rule.

The launch comes one day after Moon's government suspended the deployment of the USA missile defense system, known as THADD which had strained relations with China and angered North Korea. South Korean citizens living near the proposed battery originally expressed worry that the AN/TPY-2 radar system could pose health risks, but the number of radars-one-stays the same.

Seoul and Washington were analysing the launches for further information, South Korean officials said.

"Kim Jong Un could agree to take a pause [from testing] and find out what kind of a deal he could get from Moon, who is clearly more willing to address North Korea's economic interests and security concerns, and to see what Trump, with all his big talk, has on offer", Samore said.

The North's missile tests present a hard challenge to Moon, a liberal elected last month who has expressed a desire to reach out to Pyongyang.

Japan's navy and air force conducted military drills with two USA aircraft carriers in the Sea of Japan last week, following similar joint U.S.

North Korea projectiles were not ballistic missiles.

"I would not say we are comfortably ahead of the threat", Syring said.

Speaking last Friday, Russia's deputy United Nations ambassador, Vladimir Safronkov, said the USA sanctions against Russian firms were "very puzzling and deeply disappointing".

  • Zachary Reyes