Sunday, March 5, 2017

North Korea Fires Ballistic Missile Into The Sea Near Japan


Tokyo calls North Korea’s latest missile launch a ‘grave threat to national security’

AP, AFP-JIJI, Kyodo, Staff Report
North Korea on Monday launched four ballistic missiles, three of which fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone in the Sea of Japan, the Japanese government said.
There were no immediate reports of damage to ships or aircraft in the area, Japan’s top government spokesman, Yoshihide Suga, said at a news conference in Tokyo, calling the latest missile launch a “grave threat to national security.”
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe separately told reporters that the missiles traveled around 1,000 km. He later said at a Diet session that the remaining missile also fell near the EEZ.
Japan has filed a protest with North Korea over the latest missile launches, according to Abe.
Suga also said the launches are in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted against North Korea, banning it from developing nuclear arms and missile technologies.
In Seoul, Yonhap News Agency reported earlier, citing South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, that a possible intercontinental ballistic missile had been launched at 7:36 a.m. from North Korea’s northwest in an apparent protest by North Korea against a joint military drill by South Korea and the United States that began last week.
According to Yonhap, the projectile was launched near North Korea’s Donchang-ri long-range missile site.
Seoul said was not immediately clear what type of missile was fired or the exact number; Pyongyang has staged a series of missile test-launches of various ranges in recent months. The ramped-up tests come as leader Kim Jong Un pushes for a nuclear and missile program that can deter what he calls U.S. and South Korean hostility toward the North.
Seoul and Washington call their military drills on the Korean Peninsula, which remains in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice and not a peace treaty, defensive and routine.
The South’s Joint Chief of Staff said in a statement that Monday’s launches were made from the Tongchang-ri area in North Pyongan province. The area is the home of the North’s Seohae Satellite Station where it has conducted prohibited long-range rocket launches in recent years.
The North hates the military drills, which run until late April and which analysts say force its impoverished military to respond with expensive deployments and drills of their own. An unidentified spokesman for the North’s General Staff of the Korean People’s Army said last week that Pyongyang’s reaction to the southern drills would be the toughest ever but didn’t elaborate
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.
“South Korea and the United States are conducting a close-up analysis, regarding further information,” South Korea’s Office of Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
The South’s defense ministry said the launches took place at “around 7:36 a.m.” South Korean time.
The South’s Yonhap news agency cited an unnamed ministry official as saying one projectile could be an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
Seoul and Washington launched annual joint military exercises last week that regularly infuriate Pyongyang, which condemns them as provocative rehearsals for invasion.
Visiting a North Korean army headquarters unit, leader Kim Jong Un ordered the troops to “set up thorough countermeasures of a merciless strike against the enemy’s sudden air assault,” the state-run Korean Central News Agency said on the day the Foal Eagle exercises started.
North Korea fired a ballistic missile last month — its first such launch since October — which Seoul had said was aimed at drawing “global attention” to its nuclear and missile program and “testing the response from the new U.S. administration” of President Donald Trump.
North Korea is barred under U.N. resolutions from any use of ballistic missile technology. But six sets of U.N. sanctions since Pyongyang’s first nuclear test in 2006 have failed to halt its drive for what it insists are defensive weapons.
Last year the country conducted two nuclear tests and numerous missile launches in its quest to develop a nuclear weapons system capable of hitting the continental U.S.

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