North Korea musudan missile
North Korea test fires 2 Musudan missiles in violation of UN sanctions Picture: A Taepodong-2 rocket is launched from the North Korean rocket launch facility in Musudan Ri April 5, 2009 in this picture released by the North's official news agency KCNA on April 8, 2009.Reuters

North Korea on Wednesday violated United Nations sanctions against it again by test-firing two mid-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea, South Korea said. Of the two launches, one was confirmed a failure.

The first launch, which took place at 6 a.m. local time, travelled some 150 km before landing in the sea, and is considered a failure. The second missile travelled 400 km, and is being considered to have covered as much distance as estimated, the Guardian reported. It is still being analysed by the South Korean military, CNN reported.

 Both missiles fell into the Sea of Japan after being launched from Wonsan on North Korea's eastern coast.

"The North launched one missile presumed to be Musudan from areas near Wonsan at around 5:58 a.m., but it is assumed to be unsuccessful," Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff was quoted by South Korean news agency Yonhap as saying in a brief release.

"According to the U.N. Security Council resolution, any launches that involve ballistic missile technology are a violation of the treaty and we think this is clearly a provocation towards us," South Korea's Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon Hee was quoted by CNN as saying at a press briefing.

North Korea apparently aims to create missiles that can eventually be used to target the U.S. The launches on Wednesday, however, were not a threat to North America, Commander Dave Benham, spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command, was quoted as saying by CNN.

Japan also took stock of the launches by Pyongyang on Wednesday. Its defence minister Gen Nakatani, despite saying that the first launch, which had resulted in failure, was not a threat to Japan, initiated high-profile meetings to secure Japan. He had made the comments before the second launch.

The United Nations, the European Union and countries like the U.S. have levied sanctions against North Korea to register their condemnation of its nuclear proliferation programme. The U.S. is believed to be attempting to manoeuvre North Korea into a nuclear deal, like Iran's. Financial sanctions are heaped on the isolated country to force it to give up its nuclear programme.

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