North Korea has fired six short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan, which comes just after the UN imposed "unprecedented" sanctions on the country. The sanctions include a ban on trading arms with Pyongyang.
South Korea's Defense Ministry said Thursday that North Korea fired six projectiles - either rockets or guided missiles - that landed into the ocean around 100-150 kilometers (60-90 miles) off the peninsula's eastern seaboard.
The launch comes just after the UN Security Council unanimously imposed "unprecedented" sanctions aimed at curbing Pyongyang's nuclear program.
Sanctions against the North
The UN imposed sanctions against the North after Pyongyang launched a long-range rocket in February, which the international community described as an effort by the North to test its capability to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles.
North Korea also tested a nuclear weapon in January, a move that drew international outrage at the country persisting with its atomic weapons program.
Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the UN, described the sanctions as "unprecedented."
"Virtually all of the DPRK's resources are channeled into its reckless and relentless pursuit of weapons of mass destruction," said Power, referring to North Korea by the acronym of its official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
In addition, the UN's measures include a ban on all sales or transfers of small arms and light weapons to Pyongyang and mandatory inspections on cargo entering and exiting the communist nation.
European countries have added to a chorus of criticism against North Korea saying the sanctions are necessary to bring the North in line with UN security council resolutions.
"These are among the toughest measures we have agreed against any country in the world, certainly the toughest ever against the DPRK," British Ambassador Matthew Rycroft told the AFP news agency.
The UN resolution also provides countries the ability to expel North Korean diplomats who engage in "illicit activities" and bans the sale of luxury items, including watches and snowmobiles worth more than $2,000 (1,847 euros) in a bid to target the country's elites.
"These sanctions are not meant to target ordinary citizens," said Motohide Yoshikawa, Japan's permanent representative to the UN, a sentiment echoed by several countries on the Security Council.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the council's resolution, saying he hoped it would lead to "dialogue."
"This firm response by the Security Council should put an end to the cycle of provocation and lead to the resumption of dialogue in accordance with the unified view of the international community," Ban said in a statement.
US President Barack Obama praised the resolution, saying it was a "firm, united and appropriate response by the international community."
"Today, the international community, speaking with one voice, has sent Pyongyang a simple message: North Korea must abandon these dangerous programs and choose a better path for its people," said Obama.
smm/bw (AP, AFP, Reuters)