North Korea Launches Four Ballistic Missiles into the Ocean

North Korea has once again earned the ire of both South Korea and Japan after firing what has been reported as four ballistic missiles into the ocean off Japan’s northwest coast on Monday. The missile tests coincided with the joint U.S.-South Korean military exercises on the southern Korean peninsula.

Kim Jong Un’s regime, which has been carrying out a series of nuclear and missile tests in defiance of U.N. resolutions since last year, has earlier vowed to retaliate over the joint military drills. Just last month, Pyongyang tested a solid-fuel rocket that it claimed to be a part of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the United States.

The latest missiles, which flew on average 1,000 km (620 miles) at the height of 260 km (160 miles), were unlikely to have been intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), according to the South Korean military. It has determined that the missiles were launched from the Tongchang-ri region, which is near the North Korean border with China, Reuters reports.

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Hwang Kyo-ahn, South Korea’s acting President, criticized Pyongyang’s latest actions as a direct affront to the international community, saying Seoul is pushing to deploy a U.S. anti-missile defense system soon, despite China’s objections.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe stated that the country has lodged “strong protests” against North Korea.

“The launches are clearly in violation of Security Council resolutions. It is an extremely dangerous action,” Abe was quoted as saying in the Japanese parliament.

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According to Japan’s Defence Minister Tomomi Inada, three of the missiles reached as close as 300 km (190 miles) from Japan’s northwest coast.

U.S. officials, however, have expressed that the latest launches had no indications that North Korea had tested an ICBM. While the U.S. military confirmed that it had detected a North Korean missile launch, it denied that the missile could pose a threat, at least to North America.

China, for its part, has called for restraint from all parties.

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“All sides should exercise restraint and not do anything to irritate each other to worsen regional tensions,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang was quoted as saying during the National People’s Congress meeting.

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