North Korea conducts missile test

North Korea on Monday conducted trial launches of two short-range missiles, Agence France-Presse reported (see GSN, Oct. 25).

“The missiles are estimated to have a range of about 120 kilometers,” the Yonhap News Agency quoted a South Korean official as saying. “We believe the North test-fired the missiles to try to improve their capabilities and range. We don’t see this as more than test-firing” (Agence France-Presse/Sydney Morning Herald, Dec. 19).

It does not appear the test was connected to the North’s declaration on Monday that leader Kim Jong Il had died, Reuters quoted a South Korean official as saying (see related GSN story, today).

“This is something that the military has continued to follow, and we believe it is not related to the death of Chairman Kim Jong Il,” the source said in a Yonhap report.

The launch — at the time reported as involving one missile — is believed to have occurred prior to the formal declaration at noon that Kim had suffered a fatal heart attack on Saturday.

The missile test reportedly occurred from the east coast of North Korea. The regime conducts intermittent trial launches of short-range missiles during regular military maneuvers or in connection with delicate political situations, according to Reuters. The most recent launch was believed to have occurred in June (Jack Kim, Reuters/Chicago Tribune, Dec. 19).