THE rival Koreas test-launched ballistic missiles hours apart from each other on Wednesday in a display of military assets that came amid a faltering diplomatic push to strip North Korea of its nuclear programme. South Korea’s presidential office said that it conducted its first underwater-launched ballistic missile test on Wednesday afternoon. It said, a domestically built missile fired from a 3,000-ton-class submarine flew a previously set distance before hitting a designated target. The statement said, the weapon is expected to help South Korea deter potential external threats, boost its self-defence posture and promote peace on the Korean Peninsula.
The test followed two short-range North Korean ballistic missile launches detected by South Korea’s military earlier Wednesday. On Monday, North Korea said, it fired a newly-developed cruise missile in its first weapons test in six months. Experts say, the North Korean launches showed it’s pressing ahead with its arms build-up plans while trying to apply pressure on the United States to resume stalled nuclear talks. It’s not usual for South Korea to publicly disclose high-profile weapons tests that some experts say could provoke North Korea unnecessarily. Observers say, Moon’s Government, which has been actively pursuing reconciliation with North Korea, may be responding to criticism that it’s too soft on the North.