North Korea fired a second short-range projectile into the sea off its east coast on Monday, taking the tally to six missile launches since Saturday, South Korea’s defense ministry said.
South Korean defense officials said that the projectile appears to be a KN-02 (surface-to-surface) missile, but they could not confirm it.
"We are currently trying to determine what the projectile was and the North's intentions behind the launch," said a South Korean military Official, as reported by South Korea’s Yonhap News. "It appears that the North is trying to renew military tensions on the Korean Peninsula," he added.
The projectile, which was fired from a mobile launcher off North Korea's east coast, flew about 120 kilometers in the northeast direction before falling into the sea, the official said.
North Korea launched a total of six projectiles in past three days - three on Saturday, one on Sunday and two projectiles on Monday. North Korea conducts regular rocket tests and claims its launches are military drills aimed at propping up defenses.
"Conducting military drills to build up a strong deterrence capability is a legitimate right of any sovereign country," said the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, which is in charge of inter-Korean relations.
The North’s weekend rocket launches are nothing unusual and are similar to its previous weapons test, the Associated Press reported. Analysts quoted by the AP believe that the projectile launches appear to be an attempt to win the U.S. and South Korean attention amid attempts to initiate diplomatic efforts to launch peace talks.
However, the South Korean officials had urged the North to stop firing projectiles, arguing that it would further escalate the tensions simmering in the Korean Peninsula.
"Whether it's a test-firing demonstration or armed, North Korea should not engage in tension-creating acts," Kim Jang-soo, head of the National Security Office said, as reported by the Yonhap news.
The North’s apparent military drills with short-range weapons have so far not raised much concern in the U.S. However, Washington and Seoul are closely watching the North’s medium range and long-range ballistic missile tests, as they fear such weapons are capable of reaching the U.S. and South Korean targets.