North Korea fires missiles into Sea of Japan

Bruno Cirelli
Agosto 28, 2017

South Korea's defense ministry said "unidentified projectiles", fired at 6:49 am (2149 GMT Friday), flew some 250 kilometers towards the Sea of Japan.

The South Korean Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectiles were launched from the North's eastern Kangwon province into the sea.

Military authorities believe the latest provocation is aimed at protesting the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military exercises that South Korea and the US launched on Monday. In July, it launched an intercontinental ballistic missile, which North Korea claims could reach "anywhere in the world".

They are the first known missile firings since July, when the North successfully flight tested a pair of intercontinental ballistic missiles that analysts say could reach deep into the US mainland when perfected.

Earlier this month, President Donald Trump issued an extraordinary ultimatum to North Korea, warning Pyongyang not to make any more threats against the United States or it will "face fire and fury like the world has never seen."

North Korea last month fired intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the USA mainland, triggering heightened rhetoric from both the sides.

The U.S. Pacific Command revised its initial assessment that the first and third short-range missiles failed during flight to say they flew about 250 kilometers (155 miles).

It was not immediately clear whether the missiles were short or long range.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the missiles did not reach its territory or exclusive economic zone and did not pose a threat to Japan's safety.

The United States and South Korea are technically still at war with the North because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Though North Korea says it now has the ability to send missiles to the United States mainland, USA defense officials said they determined these missiles did not pose a threat to North America or Guam.

Washington has repeatedly urged China, North Korea's main ally and trading partner, to do more to rein in Pyongyang.

Also on Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson praised Pyongyang for demonstrating "some level of restraint", noting that there had been "no missile launches or provocative acts on the part of North Korea", since the United Nations Security Council voted August 5 to impose a $1 billion sanctions package against the country.

The White House said President Trump was briefed on what happened and "we are monitoring the situation".

The U.S. State Department did not immediately comment about the Saturday launches.

"We hope that this is the beginning of this signal that we've been looking for - that they are ready to restrain their level of tensions, they're ready to restrain their provocative acts and that perhaps we are seeing our pathway to sometime in the near future having some dialogue", Tillerson said.

South Korea planned to convene its national security council several hours after the missile launches, the presidential office said in a statement.

"I respect the fact that he is starting to respect us", Trump said at a campaign rally earlier this week.

North Korea test-fired three short-range missiles into the Sea of Japan.

Kim reportedly told his troops that they "should think of mercilessly wiping out the enemy with arms only and occupying Seoul at one go and the southern half of Korea".

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