North Korea fires four ballistic missiles into Sea of Japan

Posted at 8:19 PM, Mar 05, 2017
and last updated 2017-03-05 22:19:29-05

By Paula Hancocks and Joshua Berlinger

(CNN) — North Korea has fired four ballistic missiles, three of which landed within 200 nautical miles of Japan, the country’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Monday.

Speaking to the Japanese parliament, Abe said the launch was a clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions. “It is an extremely dangerous action,” he said.

A US official also confirmed that Pyongyang fired four projectiles, which appeared to be ballistic missiles.

Abe said three landed within Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from its coastline according to international maritime law.

The move comes as South Korea and the United States hold joint military exercises, which Pyongyang views as preparations for an invasion.

A spokesman for the South Korea Defense Ministry, said “several projectiles” flew about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles).

The launch took place in Tongchang-ri, in the country’s North Pyongan province, and the projectiles are believed to have landed in the Sea of Japan, which is also known as the East Sea, according to a South Korean Defense Ministry official.

Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn told the South Korean National Security Council Monday he strongly condemned North Korea’s actions.

“This is a direct challenge to the international community and a grave violation,” he said.

“Having seen the brutality of North Korea from Kim Jong Nam, I’d say the consequences of the Kim Jong Un regime having nuclear weapons will be horrible,” he said referring to the killing of the North Korean leader’s estranged half brother at Kuala Lumpur airport last month. North Korea has denied any involvement in the murder.

Foal Eagle drills

South Korea and United States are holding their annual military exercises, known as Foal Eagle, which both countries say are defensive in nature.

North Korea has already denounced this year’s exercises through state media service KCNA.

“Now that the US imperialists and the South Korean puppet forces again kicked off the dangerous nuclear war drills against the DPRK at its doorstep, our army will counter them with the toughest counteractions,” it said.

The exercises usually draw condemnation and retribution from Pyongyang.

During last year’s drills, North Korea fired multiple short to medium range missiles and announced it could place nuclear warheads on its weapons.

New missile launched in February

The launch comes weeks after North Korea test-fired a new type of missile, the Pukguksong-2, a medium-long range ballistic missile.

That missile was also fired from North Pyongan province and traveled 500 kilometers (310 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan.

The launch happened while Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was in the United States visiting US President Donald Trump.

North Korean state media reported that Kim Jong Un personally oversaw the operation.

CNN’s Junko Ogura, Lee Taehoon, Barbara Starr and Ben Westcott contributed to this report.