The projectiles flew for 255 miles
with a maximum altitude of around 30 miles, the South Korean military said.
Japan’s coast guard confirmed a
missile had landed outside the waters of its exclusive economic zone.
It comes as North Korea announced it
would be holding a session of the Supreme People’s Assembly, the country’s
parliament, on April 19. Analysts say the meeting will involve almost 700 of
North Korea’s leaders in one spot.
There have been no reported cases of coronavirus in North Korea, though some
experts have cast doubt on this.
North Korea borders China, where the virus emerged, and South Korea, where
there has been a major outbreak.
A top US military official said last week he was “fairly certain”
there were infections in North Korea.
However, North Korea quarantined around 380 foreigners – mostly diplomats and staff in Pyongyang – in their compounds for at least 30 days. The restrictions were lifted at the beginning of March. Around 80 foreigners, mainly diplomats, were flown out of Pyongyang on March 9.
The launch comes on the eve of a visit by China’s President Xi Jinping to the US to meet President Donald Trump.
The two will discuss how to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
North Korea is banned from any missile or nuclear tests by the UN, though has repeatedly broken those sanctions.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson described the launch as “yet another” intermediate range ballistic missile, adding: “The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment.”
The US military’s Pacific Command said it appeared to have been a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile.
“The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America,” it said.
Japan called the launch “provocative”, while South Korea condemned it as “a blunt challenge” to the UN and “a threat to the peace and safety of the international community as well as the Korean peninsula”.
Last month, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles towards the Sea of Japan from the Tongchang-ri region, near the border with China.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called it a “new stage of threat”.
Last week, the US Treasury slapped sanctions on 11 North Korean business representatives and one company.
On April 4, US politicians overwhelmingly backed a bill relisting North Korea as a state sponsor of terror.
North Korea responded by warning that it will retaliate if the international community steps up sanctions, saying the US was forcing the situation “to the brink of war”.
According to a South Korean military official, the launch had taken place at 07:36 local time on March 6 and was being investigated to determine the type of projectile used.
The US military said later it had detected and tracked a launch but had determined that it did not pose a threat to North America.
State Department acting spokesperson Mark Toner said in a statement: “The United States strongly condemns the DPRK’s ballistic missile launches tonight, which violate UN Security Council Resolutions explicitly prohibiting North Korea’s launches using ballistic missile technology.”
On March 3, Pyongyang threatened to fire missiles in response to the Foal Eagle military exercises under way between South Korea and the US. North Korea sees the annual drills as preparation for an invasion against it.
Today’s launches were just the latest in a long series of tests of North Korean missile technology, which experts say is likely to be improving with successive tests.
North Korea has repeatedly said its space program is peaceful but it is believed to be developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that could strike the US.
However, most believe North Korea is still some time away from being able to miniaturize nuclear warheads so they could fit on to a missile.
Privacy & Cookies Policy
Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. These cookies do not store any personal information.
Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website.