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.
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.
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.
“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.