North Korea's missile launches have sparked angry protests from the South [Reuters]

A chronology of the major developments of North Korea's missile programme:

1998

August 31: North Korea fires what is suspected to be a missile over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean, calling it a failed satellite launch.

1999

September 13: North Korea pledges to freeze long-range missile tests.

2003

March 10: North Korea fires a land-to-ship missile off its east coast into the waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan.

October: North Korea fires two land-to-ship missiles.

2005

May: North Korea fires a short-range missile into the waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan.

2006

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March 8: North Korea fires two short-range missiles.

July 5: North Korea launches seven missiles into the waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan, including a long-range Taepodong-2 missile.

July 15: The UN security council adopts resolution 1695 demanding North Korea halt its missile programme.

October 9: North Korea conducts underground nuclear test after citing "extreme threat of a nuclear war" from the United States.

October 15: The UN security council adopts resolution 1718 condemning the test, imposing sanctions and banning North Korea from activities related to its nuclear weapons programme, including "their means of delivery".

2007

July 14: North Korea shuts down its main Yongbyon reactor, and later begins to disable it.

September 19: North Korea says it is restoring a key atomic reactor.

October 11: US removes North Korea from a list of states that sponsor terrorism.

2009

April 5: North Korea launches a long-range rocket.

The UN security council has called on North Korea to halt its missile programme [AFP]
April 13: The UN security council adopts a statement condemning North Korea's rocket launch.

April 14: North Korea quits six-party nuclear talks and vows to restart its nuclear facilities in protest against the UN statement.

May 25: North Korea conducts its second nuclear test.

June 12: The UN security council adopts resolution 1874 imposing sanctions on North Korea for its nuclear test.

June 18: A Japanese newspaper reports North Korea may fire a long-range missile towards Hawaii in early July. Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, says he has positioned more missile defences around Hawaii.

Mid-June: North Korea announces a no-sail zone off its east coast from June 25 to July 10 for military drills.

July 2: North Korea test-fires four short-range anti-ship missiles, triggering protests in Seoul, the South Korean capital.

July 4: North Korea fires four more missiles, believed to be short-range Scud missiles.

Source: Agencies