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N. Korea's latest projects were likely SRBMs: S. Korean military

South Korea on Monday revised its assessment of what North Korea fired on the weekend, saying they were likely short-range ballistic missiles.

The North launched three projectiles into the East Sea from an eastern region on Saturday morning, a month after the firing of another intercontinental ballistic missile, according to South Korean and US defense authorities.

"Chances are high that they were short-range ballistic missiles," a senior official at the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters, citing the allies' joint evaluation so far.

This image, provided by Yonhap News TV, represents a North Korea missile launch. (Yonhap)
This image, provided by Yonhap News TV, represents a North Korea missile launch. (Yonhap)

There was confusion about the projectiles.

The South's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae announced that they were "presumed" to be from a 300 mm multiple artillery rocket launch system, while the country's military publicly described them as "unidentified projectiles."

The US Pacific Command, however, was quick in characterizing those as ballistic missiles.

They were "SRBMs," PACOM's spokesman Cdr. David Benham told Yonhap News Agency shortly after the North's provocation.

He added the PACOM's assessment remains unchanged, although PACOM is aware of Cheong Wa Dae's related announcement.

Pyongyang has kept mum on its Saturday rocket launches.

Media here construed the Moon Jae-in administration as playing down the North's latest rocket firing in a bid to keep burgeoning hopes of dialogue alive.

The communist nation's artillery firing is regarded usually as part of a routine military exercise, while the launch of ballistic missiles are clearly a strategic provocation.

The North is prohibited from carrying out any launch using ballistic missile technology under several UN Security Council resolutions against the regime.

The JCS official stressed that, "For our military, it's a provocation whether it's a ballistic missile firing or an artillery rocket launch."

Among the three missiles fired on Sunday, the first and the third flew more than 250 kilometers with an apogee of some 50km. The second one blew up almost immediately.

In an early report to the Ministry of National Defense and Cheong Wa Dae about the projectiles, meanwhile, the JCS raised various possibilities, an informed source said.

Based on an analysis of their trajectories and flight ceilings, the JCS noted that they might be 300 mm artillery rockets or other types of projectiles, added the source. (Yonhap)