Seoul- North Korea launched on Monday evening four ballistic missiles, three of which reached Japan’s waters in an unprecedented aggression.
The missile launch is unacceptable on behalf of Tokyo and presents a novel challenge for the United States President Donald Trump.
Seoul and Washington began last week their annual joint military exercises which have always infuriated Pyongyang, with the North’s military warning of “merciless nuclear counter-action”.
Pyongyang -North Korea’s capital- has ambitions to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the US mainland — something which Trump has vowed will not happen.
The missiles travelled around 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) and reached an altitude of 260 kilometers, said a spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, adding they were unlikely to be ICBMs.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said “strong protests” had been lodged with North Korea, which has carried out a series of nuclear and missile tests in defiance of UN resolutions.
“It is an extremely dangerous action,” Abe told parliament.
Abe said three of the North Korean missiles came down in Tokyo’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) — waters extending 200 nautical miles from its coast.
“This clearly shows North Korea has entered a new stage of threat,” Abe told parliament.
The North’s repeated launches “clearly violate UN Security Council resolutions”, he said. “We can never tolerate this.”
After an emergency meeting of South Korea’s National Security Council, acting president Hwang Kyo-Ahn called the North’s nuclear and missile provocations “immediate and real threats” to his country.
“Considering the North Korean leadership’s brutality and recklessness shown through the murder of Kim Jong-Nam, the results of the North having a nuclear weapon in its hands will be gruesome beyond imagination,” he said.
Both Berlin and Paris denounced the loud violation. The US Secretary of State criticized the missile launches and vowed to use means possible to address this growing threat.