North Korea fired what appeared to be a 'submarine-launched ballistic missile', Seoul said on Wednesday, a day after Washington and Pyongyang announced they would resume stalled nuclear talks.
Pyongyang frequently couples diplomatic overtures with military moves, as a way of maintaining pressure on negotiating partners, analysts say, and may believe this weapons system gives it added leverage.
A proven submarine-based missile capability would take the North's arsenal to a new level, allowing deployment far beyond the Korean peninsula and a 'second-strike' capability in the event of an attack on its military bases.
The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected a ballistic missile early Wednesday fired around 450 km in an easterly direction at a maximum altitude of 910 km.
The missile was 'believed to be one of the ‘Pukkuksong models', the JCS said in a statement, referring to a line of submarine-launched ballistic missiles under development by the North. 'Such actions by North Korea to raise tensions are not helpful to efforts to ease tensions on the Korean peninsula and we urge it again to stop immediately,' it added.
The North carried out a successful test of the Pukkuksong-1, also known as KN-11, in August 2016 which flew around 500 km. The US said it was monitoring the situation on the Korean peninsula. One of the projectiles fell into waters within Japan's exclusive economic zone - a 200-km band around Japanese territory, Tokyo said.
'The launching of ballistic missiles violates UN Security Council resolutions and we strongly protest and strongly condemn it,' Japanese Prime Minister, Mr. Shinzo Abe said. The North is banned from ballistic missile launches under UN Security Council resolutions.