North Korea fired two ballistic missiles off its east coast on Sunday, flouting a United Nations ban on the country testing such missiles. The test came four days before President Xi Jinping of China was scheduled to visit Seoul, South Korea, his first trip to the Korean Peninsula as Beijing’s leader.
The two Scud-type missiles flew 500 kilometers, or about 310 miles, and landed in waters between North Korea and Japan, officials at the Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff of the South Korean military said on Sunday. North Korea regularly tests short-range rockets and missiles. It fired three short-range projectiles off its coast on Thursday. Its state media later said that its leader, Kim Jong-un, supervised what it called the test firings of a new type of precision-guided missile.
The North’s neighboring countries found its firings on Sunday more provocative because a series of United Nations Security Council resolutions banned the country from testing any ballistic missile technology for fear it was developing an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead.
Although North Korea had technical reasons to test its missiles, outside analysts said that the country often timed such test-firings to make a political impact in the region, especially when the leaders or negotiators of neighboring governments gathered to discuss their policies on the North. North Korea launched two midrange Rodong ballistic missiles in March, when President Barack Obama met with President Park Geun-hye of South Korea and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in The Hague and condemned its nuclear ambitions.
Mr. Xi was scheduled to arrived in Seoul on Thursday for a two-day trip that included a summit meeting with Ms. Park. While announcing Mr. Xi’s trip to Seoul, Qin Gang, spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, maintained that China had a “fair and objective position” on the Korean Peninsula.