North Korea Missiles Launched Over Sea; South Korea Protests

Monday, 17 Mar 2014 12:23 PM

By Michael Mullins

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North Korea fired 25 short-range missiles into open water over the weekend and South Korea's Ministry of National Defense spokesman described the launch as "provocative" on Sunday.

"We evaluate it as a firing demonstration in response to the joint drill between South Korea and the U.S. We are currently additionally analyzing its intention," spokesman Kim Min-Seok told reporters, adding, "North Korea should halt any actions that can stir military tension and create uneasiness to the neighboring countries."

The missiles appear to have been "Free Rockets Over Ground" missiles, or FROGS, which are road-mobile warheads originally developed by the Soviet Union decades earlier, CNN reported.

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"It does not have a guidance system and is (a) free-fall system. North Korea had developed it in the '60s," the spokesman added.

According to South Korean officials, the missiles landed in the Sea of Japan.

North Korea subsequently defended its release of the missiles.

"It is justifiable self-defense behavior for us to conduct these military exercises in order to preserve peace in the region and to protect the safety of our people and our country," the government said, according to state-run media.

This weekend's North Korea missile-launch follows two earlier missile releases into the ocean by the North Korean military in recent weeks.

The first occurred on Feb. 27, in which North Korea launched four Scud missiles about 137 miles into the ocean, followed by two short-range missiles on March 3.

Foreign Policy magazine's editor David Rothkopf told CNN earlier in the month that "North Korea's missile launch is merely part of their ongoing efforts to demonstrate to the world, and more importantly to their own people, what they are capable of."

"It is more showmanship than meaningful geopolitics," Rothkopf added. "It is not a surprise, and we should expect more of the same so long as this regime is in place."

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