North Korea Fires Ballistic Missiles Close to Japan

Mar 07, 2017, 00:14
North Korea Fires Ballistic Missiles Close to Japan

Earlier, South Korea's military said the North fired four ballistic missiles into the East Sea.

South Korea's acting President Hwang Kyo Ahn has condemned the launches as a direct challenge to the worldwide community and said Seoul would swiftly deploy a United States anti-missile defence system despite angry objections from China.

On Sunday, South Korea said it could quadruple the compensation it pays defectors in the North who share tips that can help improve security to $860,000 (£700,000).

The multiple missile launch lays bare Pyongyang's determination to address the security issue militarily - not through dialogue - in appalling similarity with the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, half brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, in Kuala Lumpur last month.

The firing of the ballistic missiles came after North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un decried joint US and South Korean military exercises as "preparation for an invasion". Kim Jong-un is said to have called for an investigation last fall into whether or not the USA and South Korea were sabotaging the North's efforts to develop a reliable missile program.

U.S. Strategic Command noted that its "systems detected and tracked what we assess was a North Korean missile launch", confirming just one of what South Korea and Japan have said was a four-missile salvo launch.

Japan's Ministry of Defense said the missiles landed in waters as close as 300 kilometers (186 miles) from Japan's northeast coast.

Tongchang-ri is near the North's border with China, where the isolated state fired a long-range rocket previous year that put an object into orbit.

Washington would consider such a capability a major threat.

The North's leader Kim Jong-un announced at the start of this year that he planned to test an ICBM.

"They (are) making it clear that as long as the U.S. continues these exercises, North Korea will keep taking steps to bolster their deterrent", Jeffrey Lewis, Adjunct Professor at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, told CNN.

Shortly after the order was given, North Korea's missiles began exploding on launch, straying from their intended flight paths, or coming apart mid-flight.

In South Korea, there was some carry-over from Friday's 1.1% slide - the largest in four months - from China moving to restrict its tour groups bound for the country. Nevertheless, Shuang also added, "China has also noted that the United States and South Korea are holding large-scale military exercises targeting North Korea".

Some of the missiles landed 190 miles from Japan's north-west coast in clear breach of United Nations resolutions.

Mark Fitzpatrick says the timing of today's test was political in nature, primarily as a defiant response to the military exercise at North Korea's border.

Experts said Pyongyang is testing President Donald Trump's neophyte administration - and plenty of others are taking note.

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