North Korea is reported to have test-fired a sixth missile today, said to be a ‘Scud’ type rocket with a range of about 500 kms. It further stokes tensions on the Korean peninsula, which were already high after the North’s nuclear weapons test in May. Similar launches on Thursday were seen as simple military drills, but today’s rockets may be more overtly political as the North’s leading critic, America, celebrates Independence Day.
Military experts are analysing the launches, and Tokyo said one of them may have been a mid-range Rodong, powerful enough to threaten all of South Korea and even Japan. The view from Seoul is that the North’s increasing bellicosity is aimed at strengthening leader Kim Jong-Il’s control and keep the military on-side as he prepares his succession, possibly handing power to his third son.