North Korea launches missiles, liquidates South Korean assets

  • 10/03/2016
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets nuclear weapons scientists and technicians (Reuters)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meets nuclear weapons scientists and technicians (Reuters)

North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, says Seoul, as South Korea and the United States conduct a large joint military drill.

The North also announced it has scrapped all agreements with the South on commercial exchange projects and would "liquidate" all South Korean assets left behind in its territory.

North Korea has a large stockpile of short-range missiles and is developing long-range and intercontinental missiles as well. The latest missiles fired flew about 500km off its east coast city of Wonsan and were likely from the Soviet-developed Scud series, South Korea's defence ministry said.

Japan, which is within range of the longer-range variant of Scud missiles or the upgraded Rodong missiles, lodged a protest through the North Korean embassy in Beijing, Japan's Kyodo news agency reported.

North Korea often fires short-range missiles when tensions rise on the Korean peninsula. Pyongyang gets particularly upset about the annual US-South Korea drills, which it says are preparations for an invasion.

The US and South Korea remain technically at war with the North because the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armed truce instead of a peace agreement.

Around 17,000 US military personnel are participating alongside some 300,000 South Korean troops in what South Korea's Defence Ministry has called the "largest-ever" joint military exercises.

North Korea warned earlier this week that it would make a "pre-emptive and offensive nuclear strike" in response to the exercises.