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North Korea

North Korea fires ballistic missiles into Japanese waters, prompting ‘stern protest’ from PM Abe

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 March, 2017, 8:08am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2017, 6:07am

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised the test launches of four missiles by an army unit commissioned with attacking US military bases in Japan, the country’s official news agency reported on Tuesday.

The missile firing into waters off Japan’s east coast was reported on Monday by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who said Tokyo lodged a “stern protest” with North Korea.

The launch of the missiles, three of which Abe said fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, were “a grave threat to our country’s national security,” according to government spokesman Yoshihide Suga.

South Korean news agency Yonhap, which first reported the launch, said an “unidentified projectile” had been launched from an area near the Dongchang Ri missile site at 7.36 am and flew across North Korea before landing in the the Sea of Japan.

The test was an apparent protest against ongoing military drills between South Korea and the United States, Yonhap said.

North Korea said in February it had successfully test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. It was the first such test and provocation since US President Donald Trump took office.

In his New Year address, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said his nation was almost ready to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile.

North Korea test-launched a new intermediate-range missile in February and conducted two nuclear tests last year. There has also been widespread worry that the North will conduct an ICBM test that, when perfected, could in theory reach U.S. shores. Washington would consider such a capability a major threat.

The United States has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea as a deterrent against a potential aggression from the North.

Additional reporting by Associated Press