World / Asia-Pacific

ROK denounces DPRK's missile launch provocation

(Xinhua) Updated: 2016-07-19 13:18

SEOUL - Military of the Republic of Korea (ROK) on Tuesday denounced the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) for its test-launch of ballistic missiles, which came in protest against the decision between Seoul and Washington to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) to the ROK soil.

An official with the ROK's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) told a regular briefing of the defense ministry that the DPRK's missile launches were a provocative act threatening the ROK's national security and safety of its people, slamming Pyongyang's repeated"reckless provocations."

The denunciation came after Pyongyang test-fired three short-range ballistic missiles earlier in the morning in an apparent show of force to protest against the THAAD deployment decision.

The DPRK fired off three ballistic missiles from the western region of Hwangju in North Hwanghae province between 5:45 am and 6:40 am local time, according to the JCS.

Those missiles are estimated to be a short-range Scud-type, but there is a possibility for medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles to be fired from a high angle to reduce a flight distance.

Two of the three projectiles traveled about 500 to 600 kilometers, which are a flight enough to reach the entire ROK territory. The remaining one is still under analysis due to an unclear trajectory, the JCS official said.

All of the three missiles were directed toward the East Sea, but it is not clear whether the projectiles landed in waters. It marked the first time in about four months since March that Pyongyang launched short-range ballistic missiles.

The test-launches came after Seoul and Washington agreed last Wednesday to deploy one THAAD battery to the Seongju county, some 250 km southeast of Seoul, by the end of next year.

The DPRK's military threatened to take"physical measures"against THAAD when the deployment site is determined in response to the THAAD deployment decision.

THAAD is an advanced US missile defense system designed to shoot down missiles at a relatively high altitude of 40-150 km using a hit-to-kill technology. The DPRK's short-range missiles are known to fly at a lower altitude of about 20 km incapable of being intercepted by THAAD missiles.

On July 8, military authorities of the ROK and the United States announced their decision to install the THAAD system to an unidentified region in the ROK.

A day later, the DPRK test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) off its east coast to protest against the installation decision. In times of military conflict, it is hard to detect and track missiles launched from a submarine with the THAAD's X-band radar.

Seoul's unification ministry said Monday that Pyongyang appeared to have been in a state of conducting another nuclear test at any time given increased activity in its main Punggye-ri nuclear test site where the country carried out four underground nuclear tests since 2006.

The move of many trucks and personnel reportedly started to be spotted in the test site since July 8, with the activity observed over the past week having been the most brisk in recent months.

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