SEOUL • The weapons North Korea launched over the weekend travelled into the stratosphere and flew at a distance long enough to strike deep into South Korean territory, according to a South Korean assessment.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff did not indicate what was fired off of North Korea’s east coast on Saturday and into the sea, but experts believe at least one ballistic missile was launched and the testing may indicate that North Korea has improved its capabilities to strike the South.
The multiple short-range projectiles were fired on Saturday from 9:06am to 10:55am and reached altitudes of between 20km and 60km.
They covered a distance of about 70km to 240km, Kim Joon Rak, a spokesman for the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told reporters at a briefing.
That means the weapons could strike a region stretching from the Seoul area — accounting for about half of the country’s population — to the central city of Daejeon.
Neither the US, nor South Korea have confirmed that North Korea fired a ballistic missile, which would be in violation of international agreements and complicate their current detente with Pyongyang.
Rather than condemn the move, US and South Korean officials played down the threat — a move that analysts said could keep the door open for nuclear negotiations, but also signal to Kim Jong-un that he has the green light to do more short-range testing. — Bloomberg