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North Korea fires submarine-launched ballistic missile

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SEOUL — North Korea has fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile off its east coast, South Korea says, amid concerns it might conduct a nuclear test or a missile launch ahead of a key ruling party meeting in May.

The North fired the missile to the north-east from an area off its east coast around 6:30pm (local time), the South’s office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The missile flew for about 30 kilometres, a South Korean Defence Ministry official said, adding its military was trying to determine whether the launch may have been a failure for unspecified reasons.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said the missile flew “for a few minutes”, citing a government source.

UK Foreign Minister Philip Hammond said the test showed North Korea’s “blatant disregard” for its international obligations, while the US described it a “clear violation” of UN Security Council resolutions.

“Launches using ballistic missile technology are a clear violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions,” State Department spokesman John Kirby said.

North Korea responded by saying it was willing to stop its nuclear weapons tests if the United States suspends annual war games with South Korea.

“I don’t know how the US government will consider what I just said but if we continue on this path of confrontation then this will lead into a very catastrophic result, not only for the two countries but the whole entire world as well,” North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong said.

The North will hold a congress of its ruling Workers’ Party in early May for the first time in 36 years, at which its leader Kim Jong-un is expected to say the country is a strong military power and a nuclear state.

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It first attempted a launch of the submarine-based missile last year and was seen to be in the early stages of developing such a weapons system, which could pose a new threat to its neighbors and the United States if it is perfected.

However, follow-up test launches were believed to have fallen short of the North’s expectations as its state media footage appeared to have been edited to fake success, according experts who have seen the visuals.

South Korea’s military has said it was on high alert over the possibility that the isolated North could conduct its fifth nuclear test “at any time” in defiance of UN sanctions after setting off what it said was a hydrogen device in January.

North Korea is banned from nuclear tests and activities that use ballistic missile technology under UN sanctions dating back to 2006 and most recently adopted in March but it has pushed ahead with work to miniaturise a nuclear warhead and develop an ICBM.

Reuters

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Pakistan approves Mandarin as official language

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ISLAMABAD — The Pakistani Senate has approved a motion to declare Mandarin as one of the official languages of Pakistan on Monday.

Stating that the step was necessary in view of ties between Pakistan and China, the motion said the relationaship would further deepen between the two countries and help the people connected with the China Pakistan Economic Corridor communicate easily, AbbTakk News reported.

Pakistan’s Ambassador to the US Hussain Haqqani tweeted: “In a short span of 70 years, Pakistan has flirted with promoting four languages that were not the mother tongue of many people in the country – English, Urdu, Arabic, and now Chinese — ignoring native languages”

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Punjabi, which is widely spoken in Punjab province of Pakistan, Pashto and many other native languages have not been declared official languages of the country.

According to Dawn News, Pakistanis are more interested in learning the Chinese language than ever as they see the tides changing and expect that knowing Mandarin would mean more job opportunities in Pakistan and China.

With ANI Inputs

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