Pyongyang: North Korea has fired a ballistic missile into the sea just days after the U.S. imposed sanctions on the isolated state over its nuclear tests.
South Korean military said the ‘medium-range’ Rodong missile (also known as Nodong) flew around 500 miles off its east coast.
The launch comes amid heightened tension on the Korean peninsula with North leader Kim Jong-un remaining defiant in the face of the UN Security Council sanctions imposed earlier in the month in response to a nuclear test conducted in January.
The missile was launched from an area near the west coast, north of the capital, Pyongyang, flying across the peninsular and into the sea off the east coast early today, the South’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
North Korea last test fired medium-range missiles in 2014.
The North fired two short-range missiles last week into the sea off its east coast and its leader Kim Jong Un ordered more nuclear weapons test and missile tests to improve attack capability.
North Korea often fires missiles at periods of tension on the Korean peninsula or when it comes under pressure to curb its defiance and abandon its weapons programme.
New U.S. sanctions on Pyongyang were issued on Wednesday aiming to expand U.S. blockade against the isolated state by blacklisting individuals and entities that deal with the North’s economy.
North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in Jan. 6 and launched a long-range rocket on Feb. 7 in defiance of existing U.N. Security Council resolutions.
On Wednesday, North Korea’s supreme court sentenced a visiting American student to 15 years of hard labour for crimes against the state, a punishment Washington condemned as politically motivated.
Otto Warmbier, 21, was sentenced for subversion after stealing the poster, which he said was requested by a member of his church group.
Partially-censored images purporting to show the banner have now been released by North Korea’s state news agency, along with CCTV which North Korea says shows the moment Warmbier removed it from the wall.
Warmbier was charged with trying to steal a banner featuring the name of Kim Jong-il, the state’s former leader. The banner reads: ‘Let’s arm ourselves strongly with Kim Jong-il patriotism!’
The phrase ‘Kim Jong-il patriotism’ was used to glorify the late leader after his 2011 death. The slogan was described by successor Kim Jong-un, as the ‘crystallization of socialist patriotism’.
Images and references to North Korea’s leaders, who are treated with almost god-like status in propaganda, are sacrosanct.
North Koreans are required to keep and carefully maintain portraits of former leaders Kim Jong-il and his father, Kim Il-sung. A special large, bold typeface is used when their names are printed.