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North Korea fires missile into Sea of Japan

April 5, 2017

North Korea has tested a ballistic missile one day ahead of a meeting between US President Donald Trump and China's President Xi Jinping. South Korea said the missile traveled about 60 kilometers into the Sea of Japan.

Visitors sit in front of the TV screen showing a news program reporting about North Korea's missile firing, at Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/L. Jin-man

North Korea launches ballistic missile into Sea of Japan

North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the Sea of Japan, South Korea claimed on Wednesday morning.

The missile was launched from the eastern coastal town of Sinpo on Wednesday morning and flew about 60 kilometers (37 miles), Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

"At 06:42 am (2142 GMT Tuesday) today, North Korea fired a ballistic missile from Sinpo area into the Sea of Japan," the ministry said in a statement.

It said South Korea and the US were analyzing its flight path to determine its type.

"The military is keeping a close watch over North Korea's provocative moves and maintaining a high defense posture," it said.

The US military said the missile was launched from a land-based facility near Sinpo. It said initial assessments indicated it was a KN-15 medium-range ballistic missile, the statement said.

"The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) determined the missile launch from North Korea did not pose a threat to North America," the statement said.

The KN-15 name reportedly indicated the use of solid-fuel in the rocket, which makes it harder to track because of shorter launch preparation times.

Protests from Japan

Japan also confirmed a "ballistic missile launch" and filed a protest with North Korea, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga told a news conference.

He said Japan absolutely could not tolerate North Korea's repeated provocative actions. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he "strongly condemns" the missile launch.

"It is a grave act of provocation to (Japan's) national security and something we cannot tolerate," Abe said.

South Korea's presidential Blue House called a National Security Council meeting to review the situation.

"This is a blunt challenge to a series of Security Council resolutions... and an act to threaten the peace and safety of the international community as well as the Korean peninsula," South Korea's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga (C) is surrounded by reporters as he arrived at the prime minister's office in Tokyo
The missile launch prompted outrage in JapanImage: picture-alliance/Kyodo

US prepared to act alone

Earlier this week US President Donald Trump threatened the US was prepared to act alone if China did not help rein North Korea in. He is meeting Chinese President Xi Jinping later this week.

US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was relatively quiet on the testing, just confirming Pyongyang had launched "yet another" intermediate range ballistic missile. 

"The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment," he said in a statement.

The launch came as South Korean and US troops conducted annual military drills that the North sees as a rehearsal for an invasion. The communist state often responds to the drills with its own military training and harsh rhetoric.

It is widely believed that Pyongyang eventually hopes to develop a long-range missile capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear warhead. It has so far staged five nuclear tests, two of them last year.

Two weeks ago, the South Korean and US militaries said they detected what they called a failed North Korean ballistic missile launch.

Infografik Timeline Nordkoreas Raketentests 5.4.2017 ENG

aw/jm (AFP, Reuters, AP, dpa)