South Korea says North's missile launch was a success if IRBM development was its aim

An undated photo released by North Korean Central News Agency showing the test-firing of ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 on May 14, 2017.
An undated photo released by North Korean Central News Agency showing the test-firing of ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 on May 14, 2017.PHOTO: EPA

SEOUL (REUTERS) - South Korea's defence minister said in Parliament on Tuesday (May 16) that North Korea's most recent missile launch should be considered a success if Pyongyang was aiming for the development of an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM).

Defence Minister Han Min Koo also told lawmakers that the South Korean military had spotted signs of the missile launch ahead of the test on Sunday.

Han said North Korea's missile development was progressing faster than expected.

North Korea fired a ballistic missile that landed in the sea near Russia on Sunday, in a launch the United States called a message to South Korea, days after its new president took office pledging to engage Pyongyang in dialogue.

The United Nations Security Council on Monday condemned the North's recent ballistic missile tests, warning that the launches contributed to the development of nuclear weapons delivery systems and were greatly increasing tensions.

In a unanimously agreed statement, the 15-member council said it was of vital importance that North Korea shows "sincere commitment to denuclearisation through concrete action and stressed the importance of working to reduce tensions."

"To that end, the Security Council demanded the Democratic People's Republic of Korea conduct no further nuclear and ballistic missile tests," the council said, adding that it was ready to impose further sanctions on North Korea.