North Korea on Thursday fired several short-range projectiles into the sea, hours after the United Nations’ Security Council voted to impose tough new sanctions on the isolated state and South Korean President Park Geun-hye vowed to “end tyranny” by the North’s leader.
The firing escalated tensions on the Korean peninsula, which have been high since the North’s January nuclear test and February long-range rocket launch, and set the South’s military on a heightened alert.
South Korea’s defence ministry said it was trying to determine if the projectiles, launched at 10 am (local time) from the North’s east coast, were short-range missiles or artillery fire.
Park has been tough in her response to the North’s recent actions, moving from her earlier self-described “trustpolitik” approach, and on Thursday welcomed the move by the Security Council and repeated her call for the North to change its behaviour.
“We will cooperate with the world to make the North Korean regime abandon its reckless nuclear development and end tyranny that oppresses freedom and human rights of our brethren in the North,” Park said at a Christian prayer meeting on Thursday.
North Korea faces harsh new sanctions for its nuclear weapons programme under the resolution passed unanimously by the Security Council on Wednesday, drafted by the United States and backed by the North’s main ally China.
The resolution, which dramatically expands existing sanctions, follows the North’s fourth nuclear test on January 6 and a long-range rocket launch on February 7, which the United States and South Korea said violated existing Security Council resolutions.
The North says it was its sovereign right to launch rockets as part of a space programme to put satellites into orbit.