North Korea test-fires missile into Japan′s territorial waters, draws rebuke | News | DW | 03.08.2016
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North Korea test-fires missile into Japan's territorial waters, draws rebuke

Pyongyang's missile launch is the latest in a series of test flights designed to provoke the US and its Asian allies. The North says it is testing in response to a planned deployment of a missile defense shield.

North Korea test fired a medium-range missile into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, provoking a new round of condemnation from the United States and its allies.

The missile test comes in response to US plans to deploy a missile defense system in South Korea, as well as upcoming military exercises with the South.

The US State Department warned that the US is prepared to "defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation."

Watch video 00:43

The North test fires two mid-range missiles (22.06.2016)

The US - South Korean joint exercises are scheduled for later this month. The drills last year involved 30,000 US troops and 50,000 South Korean forces.

North Korea appears to have launched a mid-range Rodong missile from its Western city of Unyul shortly before 8 am Wednesday (23:00 GMT/UTC Tuesday).

The missile flew about 620 miles (1,000 km) over the Korean peninsula and across much of the Sea of Japan, falling into Tokyo's exclusive economic zone some 250 km off its northern coast about 15 minutes after launch, according to Japan's defense minister, Gen Nakatani.

North Korea regularly condemns the joint US – South Korean military exercises as a "declaration of war."

Pyongyang has repeatedly warned of pre-emptive nuclear strikes against the South and US targets. And two weeks ago, Pyongyang launched three ballistic missiles that, according to the North, were simulated nuclear strikes on the South.

A North Korean ballistic missile rises out of the water.

The North tested a submarine-based missile last month

Defying the UN

A series of missile tests this year by North Korea are in defiance of tough UN sanctions. The communist country - likely the most isolated on earth - has vowed to take "physical action" against the planned deployment of a US missile defense system in South Korea.

In the past five years, North Korea is believed to have tested 16 Scud missiles with a range of up to 1,000 km, six Rodong missiles and six Musudan missiles with a range of up to 4,000 km, and three submarine-launched missiles, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency.

Pyongyang's ultimate goal is to be able to strike the US mainland.

The North says it is testing missiles in response to the planned deployment of a US missile defense system in the South. But Seoul says the defense system is in response to the North's ongoing missile tests.

The two allies have agreed to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD, system by the end of 2017.

Kim Jong-Un took power after his late father Kim Jong-Il died in 2011.

Multiple UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from developing ballistic missile technology.

bik/kl (AFP, AP, Reuters)

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