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Found 14 results

  1. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani. -AFP/File TEHRAN: Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said Tuesday that negotiations on the country´s missile programme were out of the question. Speaking to reporters at a press conference in Tehran, Rouhani also criticised the ongoing Turkish offensive in northern Syria, saying it was showing "no results". But many of the questions focused on the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, which is increasingly under threat from US President Donald Trump who has threatened to reimpose sanctions in May unless fresh curbs are put on Iran´s missile programme and regional behaviour. "We will negotiate with no one on our weapons," Rouhani said. "Iranian-made missiles have never been offensive and never will be. They are defensive and are not designed to carry weapons of mass destruction, since we don't have any," he said. Rouhani reiterated that the nuclear deal, signed with six world powers, could not be renegotiated. "The key to the problems between Tehran and Washington is in Washington's hands. They need to stop their threats and sanctions and pressure, and automatically the situation will improve and we can think about our future," Rouhani said. "The JCPOA (nuclear deal) is not negotiable, nor can it be rewritten," he added. "It was negotiated over 30 months before it was signed. It was approved by the UN Security Council. It is meaningless to say it can be renegotiated with the United States, the Europeans or anyone else." UN Security Council resolution 2231, which put the nuclear deal into force internationally, "urges" Iran to curb its ballistic missile tests, but this has been interpreted differently by various parties to the pact. The Europeans have tended to see subsequent missile tests as breaching the spirit of the deal, rather than as outright "violations" as the US has claimed. "If the Americans had used the occasion created by the nuclear deal correctly, there could have been an opportunity for negotiations on other questions, but the Americans destroyed this opportunity," Rouhani said. Criticism of Turkey Rouhani also criticised the Turkish offensive launched against Kurdish forces in northern Syria on January 20. "The entry of a foreign army on to the soil of another country should be done with the authorisation of that country," he said. "On principle, this action is not justified and we would like that it ends as quickly as possible. Our Turkish friends are being killed, others are being killed, Kurds are being killed - it is bringing no results." Rouhani nonetheless insisted that Iran, a key supporter of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, maintained good relations with Turkey and Russia over Syria´s future. The three countries have together organised peace talks aimed at ending Syria´s long civil war. Rouhani also touched on the protests that hit Iran for a week over the new year, and pushed back against the line, normally heard from conservatives, that they were primarily directed against the dire state of the economy. "Yes people have criticisms about the economic situation and yes they´re right, but they are also criticising the social situation, foreign relations and the political situation. The people have a lot to say and we should listen to them," he said.
  2. India is to buy 131 surface-to-air missiles from Israel in a $70 million deal, the defence ministry announced Tuesday ahead of a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: AFP file NEW DELHI: India is to buy 131 surface-to-air missiles from Israel in a $70 million deal, the defence ministry announced Tuesday ahead of a visit by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Barak missiles made by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems are to be used for India?s first aircraft carrier which is under construction. Netanyahu will lead a business delegation to India on a four-day trip expected in mid-January. Israel has become a major defence supplier to India, selling an average of $1 billion of military equipment each year. Last April the two countries signed a military deal worth nearly $2 billion which includes the supply over several years of medium-range surface-to-air missiles, launchers and communications technology. It was unclear whether the deal announced Tuesday was part of that. The Indian defence ministry also said it had approved the purchase of 240 bombs from Russia?s JSC Rosonboron Exports for $188 million. ?This procurement will address the deficiency of precision-guided munitions in the Indian Air Force (IAF) arsenal, besides enhancing the offensive capabilities of the IAF,? it said in a statement. India, which has longstanding territorial disputes with its neighbours China and Pakistan, has signed several big-ticket defence deals since Prime Minister Narendra Modi came to power in 2014. It has however been moving away from relying on traditional ally Russia for military hardware.
  3. Pyongyang dramatically ramped up its efforts to become a nuclear power in 2017, despite a raft of international sanctions and increasingly bellicose rhetoric from the United States-AFP SEOUL: Kim Jong-Un vowed North Korea would mass-produce nuclear warheads and missiles in a defiant New Year message Monday suggesting he would continue to accelerate a rogue weapons programme that has stoked international tensions. Kim, who said Monday that he always had a nuclear launch button on his desk, has presided over multiple missile tests in recent months and the North´s sixth and most powerful nuclear test -- which it said was a hydrogen bomb -- in September. "We must mass-produce nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles and speed up their deployment," said Kim in his annual address to the nation. He reiterated his claims that North Korea had achieved its goal of becoming a nuclear state but insisted its expansion of the weapons programme was a defensive measure. "We should always keep readiness to take immediate nuclear counter-attacks against the enemy´s scheme for a nuclear war." Pyongyang dramatically ramped up its efforts to become a nuclear power in 2017, despite a raft of international sanctions and increasingly bellicose rhetoric from the United States. The North claims it needs nuclear weapons to protect itself from a hostile Washington and has strived to create a warhead capable of targeting the US mainland. US President Donald Trump has responded to each test with his own amplified declarations, threatening to "totally destroy" Pyongyang and taunting Kim, saying the North Korean leader was on "a suicide mission". But far from persuading Kim to give up his nuclear drive, analysts say Trump´s tough talk may have prompted the North Korean leader to push through with his dangerous quest. "(The North) can cope with any kind of nuclear threats from the US and has a strong nuclear deterrence that is able to prevent the US from playing with fire," Kim said Monday. "The nuclear button is always on my table. The US must realise this is not blackmail but reality." ´Incredibly dangerous´ Kim´s comments come after a former top US military officer warned that the Trump presidency had helped create "an incredibly dangerous climate". "We´re actually closer, in my view, to a nuclear war with North Korea and in that region than we have ever been," said Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, in an interview on ABC´s "This Week" Sunday. When asked for a response to Kim´s claim that he had a nuclear button on his desk, Trump said "We´ll see, we´ll see", in comments to reporters during the New Year´s Eve party at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida. Pyongyang sees American military activities in the region -- such as the joint drills it holds with the South -- as a precursor to invasion. It has rattled the international community by testing increasingly longer-range intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) throughout 2017. But any military intervention by the US could escalate rapidly into a catastrophic conflict that would threaten the lives of millions. Critics say Pyongyang wants to forcibly reunify the peninsula -- divided by a demilitarised zone since the end of the 1950-53 Korean war. But Kim also sugared his speech Monday with a conciliatory tone towards Seoul, indicating for the first time that the North is considering taking part in the South´s Winter Olympics next month. "(The Olympics) will serve as a good chance to display our Korean people´s grace toward the world and we sincerely hope the Games will be a success," Kim said, urging the South to cease its "nuclear war exercise" with the US. At a time when the risk of a US pre-emptive strike is "higher than ever", Koh Yu-Hwan, Political Science Professor at Dongguk University, said the speech indicated Kim was using the Olympics gesture as a means to "shift from confrontation to peaceful co-existence with the United States". "When he said a nuclear launch button is always on his desk, he is hinting it is not necessary for the North to stage nuclear or ICBM tests in the foreseeable future," he told AFP, adding however that Kim also wanted to build "massive nuclear retaliation capabilities". In December the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed new, US-drafted sanctions against Pyongyang, restricting oil supplies vital for the impoverished state. The third raft of sanctions imposed last year, which the North slammed as an "act of war", also received the backing of China -- the country´s sole major ally and economic lifeline. Observers say Washington must open talks with the North to defuse tensions -- but that remains a challenge. Pyongyang has always said it will only deal with the US from a position of equality as a nuclear state. Washington has long insisted that it will not accept a nuclear-armed North and Pyongyang must embark on a path towards denuclearisation before any talks.
  4. Spokeswoman of the Russian Foreign Ministry Maria Zakharova gestures as she attends a news briefing in Moscow, Russia, October 6, 2015. REUTERS MOSCOW: A decision by Japan to deploy a US missile defense system will damage Moscow?s relations with Tokyo and is a breach by Washington of a landmark arms control treaty, Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said on Thursday. Japan formally decided this month it would expand its ballistic missile defense system with US-made ground-based Aegis radar stations and interceptors in response to a growing threat from North Korean rockets. ?Actions like these are in direct contradiction to the priority of building military and political trust between Russia and Japan, and, unfortunately, will impact in a negative way on the whole atmosphere in bilateral relations, including negotiations over the peace treaty problem,? Zakharova told a weekly briefing. ?In practice it will mean one more breach of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty by the Americans with, in fact, Japan?s assistance?, she said. Russia and Japan never formally ended their hostilities after World War Two because of a dispute over a chain of islands in the Pacific. Concluding a peace treaty between Russia and Japan would involve Moscow examining how it could be affected by Tokyo?s security commitments to its allies, Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month.
  5. UNITED NATIONS: United Nations officials have found that missiles fired at Saudi Arabia by Yemen?s Houthi rebels appear to have a ?common origin,? but they are still investigating US and Saudi claims that Iran supplied them, according to a confidential report. The officials travelled to Saudi Arabia to examine the debris of missiles fired on July 22 and Nov. 4, wrote UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in the fourth biannual report on the implementation of UN sanctions and restrictions on Iran. They found ?that the missiles had similar structural and manufacturing features which suggest a common origin,? said Guterres in the Friday report to the UN Security Council, seen by Reuters on Saturday. The report comes amid calls by the United States for Iran to be held accountable for violating UN Security Council resolutions on Yemen and Iran by supplying weapons to the Houthis. Saudi-led forces, which back the Yemeni government, have fought the Iran-allied Houthis in Yemen?s more than two-year-long civil war. Saudi Arabia?s crown prince has described Iran?s supply of rockets to the Houthis as ?direct military aggression? that could be an act of war. Iran has denied supplying the Houthis with weapons, saying the US and Saudi allegations are ?baseless and unfounded.? Guterre?s report said the UN officials saw three components, which Saudi authorities said came from the missile fired on Nov. 4. The components ?bore the castings of a logo similar to that of the Shahid Bagheri Industrial Group? - a UN-blacklisted company. The officials are ?still analysing the information collected and will report back to the Security Council,? wrote Guterres. NUCLEAR DEAL The Saudi-led coalition used the Nov. 4 missile attack to justify a blockade of Yemen for several weeks, saying it was needed to stem the flow of arms to the Houthis from Iran. Although the blockade later eased, Yemen?s situation has remained dire. About 8 million people are on the brink of famine, with outbreaks of cholera and diphtheria. A separate report to the Security Council last month by a panel of independent experts monitoring sanctions imposed in Yemen found that four missiles fired this year into Saudi Arabia appear to have been designed and manufactured by Iran. However, the panel said it ?as yet has no evidence as to the identity of the broker or supplier? of the missiles, which were likely shipped to the Houthis in violation of a targeted UN arms embargo imposed on Houthi leaders in April 2015. Most UN sanctions on Iran were lifted in January last year when the UN nuclear watchdog confirmed that Tehran fulfilled commitments under a nuclear deal with Britain, France, Germany, China, Russia and the United States. But Iran is still subject to a UN arms embargo and other restrictions. US President Donald Trump dealt a blow to the nuclear deal in October by refusing to certify that Tehran was complying with the accord and warning that he might ultimately terminate it. International inspectors have said Iran is in compliance. ?I encourage the United States to maintain its commitments to the plan and to consider the broader implications for the region and beyond before taking any further steps,? Guterres wrote. ?Similarly, I encourage the Islamic Republic of Iran to carefully consider the concerns raised by other participants in the plan,? he said.
  6. WASHINGTON: The US military remains confident it can - at least for the moment - protect against any North Korean missile threat, a US official said Wednesday after Pyongyang tested a new rocket type. North Korea earlier launched a previously unseen intercontinental ballistic missile, which it called a Hwasong 15, that was capable of carrying a "super-large heavy warhead" to any target in the continental United States. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis has said the missile flew higher than any other from North Korea, and warned that Pyongyang could soon threaten "everywhere in the world." The US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP that America has not changed its assessment that its various missile defense systems can stop a North Korean missile attack, though the guarantee cannot be ensured indefinitely. "I don't think they could successfully nuke the US at this time," the official said. "There is a general sense we can stop whatever North Korea has right now. For the future, I don´t know." The United States has spent decades and billions of dollars developing technologies to stop an incoming ballistic missile, and Congress is throwing billions of more dollars at the Pentagon to step up its efforts. To protect against an ICBM, the military has the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD)system, which is designed to fire an interceptor missile into space and use kinetic energy to destroy the incoming target. America has 44 interceptors in place at Fort Greely, Alaska and Vandenberg Air Force Base in California. It was put to the test in May, when the military successfully launched a GMD interceptor from the California base. Checkered record The missile blasted outside Earth's atmosphere and smashed into a dummy ICBM target, destroying it in a direct collision. But the GMD system has had a checkered record in previous tests - failing in earlier launches against slower-moving targets. The official said the GMD system can shield the entire continental United States and its territories, so it is not yet necessary to install the system on the East Coast. The GMD can stop a small number of missiles from a rogue nation but would be overwhelmed by an all-out strike from a nuclear superpower like Russia. Such a move would likely trigger retaliatory action in what is known as Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD). Some questions remain over the North's mastery of the technology required to guarantee any warhead would survive atmospheric re-entry - the key element it has not yet demonstrated. The official said that the angle of re-entry demonstrated in Wednesday's test, in which the missile went very steeply up and down, did not prove that a re-entry vehicle could survive a flight along a lower arc. That is because the heat and friction generated by an angled re-entry into Earth's atmosphere are far greater. The US military and its allies have other missile defense systems available, including the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system capable of destroying short, medium and intermediate-range missiles in their final phase of flight.
  7. MOSCOW: Russia said Tuesday its submarine deployed in the Mediterranean fired three ballistic missiles to destroy a command post of Daesh group in Syria's eastern Deir Ezzor province. "A missile strike with three Kalibr missiles destroyed a command post with large numbers of militants and armed vehicles and also a large weapons and ammunition depot," the Russian defence ministry said in a statement posted on Facebook. It said the strikes targeted the area around the town of Abu Kamal, one of the few remaining urban strongholds of Daesh in Syria. The ministry added it could confirm "the destruction of all the given targets." It posted a video on Twitter of a missile blasting out of the sea. There have been heavy clashes between the Syrian army and Daesh group in the city of Deir Ezzor, capital of the Deir Ezzor province in eastern Syria. Russia said Tuesday that its Veliky Novgorod submarine has carried out four cruise missile strikes on terrorist groups since it was deployed to the Mediterranean in late August. At Russia's Syrian naval base of Tartus in the eastern Mediterranean, Russian ships have played a prominent role backing up an aerial bombing campaign in support of Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. The submarines are covered from Syria by Moscow's S-300 and S-400 missiles systems and its Bastion coastal defence system.
  8. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani DUBAI: Iran will continue to produce missiles for its defense and does not consider that a violation of international accords, President Hassan Rouhani said on Sunday in a speech broadcast on state television. Rouhani spoke days after the US House of Representatives voted for new sanctions on Iran?s ballistic missile program, part of an effort to clamp down on Tehran without immediately moving to undermine an international nuclear agreement. ?We have built, are building and will continue to build missiles, and this violates no international agreements,? Rouhani said in a speech in parliament. ?We will produce any weapons of any kind that we need and stockpile it and use it at anytime to defend ourselves,? Rouhani said. The United States has already imposed unilateral sanctions on Iran, saying its missile tests violate a UN resolution, which calls on Tehran not to undertake activities related to missiles capable of delivering nuclear weapons. Iran denies seeking nuclear weapons and says it has no plans to build nuclear-capable missiles. Rouhani also criticized the United States over President Donald Trump?s refusal earlier this month to formally certify that Tehran is complying with the 2015 accord on Iran?s nuclear program, even though international inspectors say it is. ?You are disregarding past negotiations and agreements approved by the UN Security council and expect others to negotiate with you?? Rouhani said. ?Because of the behavior it has adopted, America should forget any future talks and agreement with other countries,? Rouhani added, referring to unnamed countries in East Asia, an apparent reference to North Korea. US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Saturday that he could not imagine the United States ever accepting a nuclear North Korea, and stressed during a week-long trip to Asia that diplomacy was America?s preferred course.
  9. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during the Second Plenum of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK) at the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang October 8, 2017. Photo: Reuters File MOSCOW: North Korea?s leadership has told Russian lawmakers that it possesses a ballistic missile with a range of 3,000 kilometres (1864.11 miles) that will be able to reach US territory after modernisation, the Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday. Interfax cited Anton Morozov, a lawmaker and member of the lower house of parliament?s international affairs committee, who visited Pyongyang from October 2-6. North Korea aims to increase the range of its ballistic missiles to 9,000 kilometres (5592.34 miles), Morozov was quoted as saying. ?There was no talk about the deadline (for solving this task),? he said.
  10. North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un makes a statement regarding US President Donald Trump's speech at the UN general assembly, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang, September 22, 2017/KCNA via REUTERS SEOUL: Several North Korean missiles were recently spotted moved from a rocket facility in the capital Pyongyang, South Korea?s Korean Broadcasting System (KBS) reported late Friday amid speculation that the North was preparing to take more provocative actions. The report cited an unnamed intelligence source saying South Korean and US intelligence officials detected missiles being transported away from North Korea?s Missile Research and Development Facility at Sanum-dong in the northern part of Pyongyang. The report did not say when or where they had been moved. The missiles could be either intermediate range Hwasong-12 or intercontinental ballistic Hwasong-14 missiles, according to the report, though the missile facility at Sanum-dong has been dedicated to the production of intercontinental ballistic missiles. A source from South Korea?s defense ministry said he could not confirm details of the report or whether there has been any unusual activities in the area mentioned. South Korean official have voiced concerns that North Korea could conduct more provocative acts near the anniversary of the founding of its communist party on Oct. 10, or possibly when China holds its Communist Party Congress on Oct. 18. Amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, South Korea and US forces recently held their first joint short range air defense training exercise in South Korea, according to a statement released by the US Pacific Command on Friday. The statement did not give the date of the exercise, but said the next exercise is scheduled to take place over the next few months as the two forces become more familiar with each other?s capabilities.
  11. The US slapped fresh sanctions on Iran Tuesday over its ballistic missile program, just hours after Washington admitted the Islamic Republic was complying with a landmark nuclear deal signed two years ago. Iran's parliament retaliated by voting for extra funding for the missile program, a move that speaker Ali Larijani said would show the Americans that Iran "will resist them with all its power." The heightened tensions came after President Donald Trump was forced to back off from a key campaign promise to withdraw from a 2015 nuclear accord with Tehran, which eased sanctions in return for limiting its ability to produce material for atomic weapons. Trump had described it as "the worst deal ever" and accused Iran of continuing to back terrorism in the Middle East. But on Monday the White House admitted that the Islamic Republic was sticking to the nukes agreement. It noted, however, that while Iran might be meeting its requirements on paper, it was ?unquestionably in default of the spirit" of the accord. In announcing the new sanctions against 18 individuals and entities in Iran, the State Department said it "remains deeply concerned about Iran's malign activities across the Middle East which undermine regional stability, security, and prosperity." It cited Iran's support for Hezbollah, Hamas, the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Huthi rebels in Yemen fighting a US-backed coalition led by Saudi Arabia. In addition to earmarking an additional $260 million for its ballistic missile program, Iran's parliament also agreed Tuesday to allot a similar amount to the Revolutionary Guards' foreign operations wing, the Quds Force, accused by Washington of fomenting unrest across the region. The Pentagon has also repeatedly voiced concern over a string of high-profile incidents in waters off Iran involving Iranian vessels. It has accused the Revolutionary Guards of conducting risky maneuvers around US warships in the Gulf, some of which resulted in the Americans firing warning shots. "These sanctions target procurement of advanced military hardware, such as fast attack boats and unmanned aerial vehicles, and send a strong signal that the United States cannot and will not tolerate Iran?s provocative and destabilizing behavior," said Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin. Washington is also concerned about the fate of Xiyue Wang, a 37-year-old Chinese-American researcher at Princeton University who was recently sentenced to 10 years in Iranian prison. Iran pushback While the US complained about Iran's defiance of the spirit of the nuclear accord, Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said he would make his own complaints about US non-compliance when representatives of the five nuclear powers - China, Russia, France, Britain, the United States - plus Germany meet in Vienna on Friday to take stock of the deal. Zarif accused the Trump administration of failing to lift sanctions in line with the deal. He said he had no communication with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, in stark contrast to his predecessor John Kerry, with whom Zarif negotiated the groundbreaking nuclear deal. "It doesn't mean there can't be. The possibilities for engagement... have always been open," said Zarif in New York, where he was attending a UN forum on development. He said he was willing to discuss Wang's case "on humanitarian grounds" but stressed that Iran's courts were independent of the government. Trump and his top security officials have always taken a tough line on Iran: his defense secretary, Jim Mattis, fought Iranian-backed militias during the US occupation of Iraq while serving as a Marine general, and memories are still fresh of Hezbollah's attack on the Marine Corps barracks in Lebanon in 1983.
  12. MOSCOW: Two Russian warships and a submarine in the Mediterranean have fired missiles at Daesh targets in Syria, the defence ministry said Friday. It said that Turkish and Israeli military "were informed in a timely manner of the missile launches through communication channels," but it did not mention the United States. Russia has suspended its communication channel with the US on military operations in Syria after a US jet shot down a Syrian warplane on Sunday, with Moscow accusing Washington of failing to issue a warning. The defence ministry said that Russia´s Admiral Essen and Admiral Grigorovich warships and the Krasnodar submarine fired six Kalibr missiles at command centres and weapons stores in Syria´s Hama region. "As a result of the surprise mass missile strike, command points were destroyed and also large stores of weapons and ammunition of the IS terrorists in the area of Aqirbat in the Hama province," it said. The ministry added that Russian planes then carried out aerial strikes that "destroyed the remainder of the Daesh fighters and their facilities." The ministry released video footage of missiles being fired from underwater by the submarine and from the ships as well as aerial footage of the missiles striking two-storey buildings in what appeared to be semi-desert areas. The most recent such strikes from ships and submarines were announced by the ministry on May 31, aimed at targets around Palmyra. The defence ministry said Friday that Daesh fighters have been moving forces into Hama province this week under cover of night and using large buildings there as command points and weapons stores. It said the fighters were trying to move out from Raqqa towards Palmyra.
  13. TEHRAN: Iran has targeted militants in Syria with missiles in retaliation for deadly attacks in Tehran. Late Sunday, the elite Revolutionary Guards launched six missiles from western Iran into Syria´s mostly Daesh held Deir Ezzor province, hitting their command base, the Guards said. The strike was "revenge" for twin attacks in Tehran on June 7 that killed 17 people in the first Daesh claimed attacks inside Iran, a Guards spokesman added. As well as punishing "terrorists", it was intended to show that Iran is capable of projecting military power across the region, officials and experts said. Sunday´s strike was the first known missile attack launched from Iran into foreign territory since the Iran-Iraq war of 1980-88. "The missile attacks were only a small part of Iran´s punitive power against terrorists and enemies," Guards spokesman General Ramezan Sharif said Monday. "International and regional supporters of the terrorists must realise the warning message of the missile operation." Iran has long accused the United States, Israel and Saudi Arabia of backing "terrorists". US President Donald Trump meanwhile accuses Iran of backing terrorism, a charge it denies and has threatened to tear up a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers.
  14. People watch a TV broadcast of a news report on North Korea firing what appeared to be several land-to-ship missiles off its east coast, at a railway station in Seoul, South Korea, June 8, 2017. REUTERS North Korea fired what appeared to be several land-to-ship missiles off its east coast on Thursday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a fast-paced series of missile tests defying world pressure to rein in its weapons program. The launches come less than a week after the United Nations Security Council passed fresh sanctions on the reclusive state, which said it would continue to pursue its nuclear and missile program without delay. It also comes a day after South Korea said it will hold off on installing remaining components of a controversial US anti-missile defence system that has angered North Korea's main ally, China. The missiles were launched Thursday morning from the North Korean coastal city of Wonsan and flew about 200 km (124 miles), South Korea's Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. Under third-generation leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea has been conducting missile tests at an unprecedented pace in an effort to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the mainland United States. Compared to the different types of ballistic missiles Pyongyang has recently tested, the missiles launched on Thursday are considered to be more defensive in nature, designed to defend against threats such as enemy warships. North Korea unveiled a number of new weapons at a massive military parade on April 15 to mark the birth anniversary of the state's founding leader and has since tested some of them. "Looking at North Korea?s pattern of missile launches, it has been revealing what it brought to the recent military parade," said Kim Dong-yub, a military expert at Kyungnam University?s Far Eastern Studies in Seoul. "What appeared to be a new type of land-to-ship missile equipped with four launching canisters was unveiled at the parade. I think this might be what was used today." THAAD defence delayed South Korean President Moon Jae-in has been briefed on the latest launch, the military said, declining to give further details. Thursday's launch is the fourth missile test by North Korea since Moon took office on May 10 pledging to engage in dialogue with Pyongyang, saying sanctions and pressure alone have failed to resolve the growing threat from the North's advancing nuclear and missile program. Moon had also promised to review the deployment of the USTerminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in South Korea. On Wednesday, his presidential office said installation of four additional launchers would be halted until an assessment of the system's impact on the environment was completed. The introduction of the THAAD system, which includes a far-reaching radar that China worries could upset the regional security balance, has sparked protests in South Korea and a backlash in China against South Korean business interests. There was no immediate reaction from China to the latest test. Seoul and Washington were analysing the launches for further information, South Korean officials said. Japan is on high alert and will analyse information in cooperation with the United States and South Korea, Kyodo news agency quoted Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida as saying. Japan's navy and air force conducted military drills with two US aircraft carriers in the Sea of Japan last week, following similar joint U.S.-South Korea exercises. "North Korea likely wanted to show off its ability to precisely target a large warship, in relation to the joint military drills involving US aircraft carriers," Roh Jae-cheon, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman told a media briefing. "By testing different types of missiles, North Korea also appears to be aiming to secure the upper hand in relations with South Korea and the United States." In the three earlier launches, North Korea tested different kinds of ballistic missiles, two medium-to-long range missiles as well as a short-range Scud class weapon. The isolated country, which has conducted dozens of missile tests and tested two nuclear bombs since the beginning of 2016 in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, says the program is necessary to counter US aggression. US President Donald Trump has been pressing China aggressively to rein in North Korea, warning that all options, including a pre-emptive military strike, are on the table if Pyongyang persists with its nuclear and missile development.