North Korea fired what are suspected to be the first ballistic missiles on the Biden administration's watch. This was also the second missile launch in the past week.
North Korea fired at least two projectiles into the sea early Thursday, South Korea's military said without giving details about what type of missiles were launched.
The country is banned from testing ballistic missiles by UN resolutions to deter it from continuing to develop rockets as an extension of its nuclear program.
The "unidentified projectiles" were launched into the Sea of Japan, known as the East Sea in Korea, from South Hamgyong province, Seoul's joint chiefs of staff said in a statement.
The South's presidential Blue House said it would convene a national security council meeting to discuss the launches.
Japan, however, suspects that the launch involved two ballistic missiles, making it the first such weapons test during the administration of US President Joe Biden.
"It's been a year since they last launched a missile," Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters. "This threatens the peace and security of our country and the region. It is also a violation of the UN resolution."
He added that he would "thoroughly discuss" North Korea issues, including the launches, with Biden during his visit next month.
Thursday's launch marks the second time Pyongyang has fired missiles in recent days.
The North fired two short-range, non-ballistic missiles off its west coast over the weekend, Seoul officials said on Wednesday.
The United States played down that launch as "common" military testing, not in violation of the UN Security Council resolution.
"According to the Defense Department, it's business as usual," Biden told reporters.
The test on Sunday came in the wake of US-South Korea joint military exercises and a visit to the region by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin.
Blinken repeatedly emphasized the importance of denuclearizing Pyongyang during his visit to Seoul and Tokyo.
Diplomatic overtures to North Korea by the two-month-old Biden administration have gone unanswered.
While Washington hopes to restart nuclear negotiations, Pyongyang said it would not engage until the US dropped hostile policies, referring to US sanctions and the military drills with South Korea.
Senior US officials said Wednesday that the Biden administration was finalizing a strategy to restart talks that the White House will discuss with the national security advisers of allies Japan and South Korea next week.
adi/rc (AFP, Reuters)