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South Korea Military says North Korea Fired Missile Into Waters Off Coast -- Update

6 Mar 2017 12:05 am
By Jonathan Cheng and Kwanwoo Jun 

SEOUL -- North Korea fired a ballistic missile off its west coast on Monday morning, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, in the latest sign of Pyongyang's determination to push ahead with its missile program despite increasing pressure against it.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a brief statement that the projectile was launched from Tongchang-ri in North Korea's northwestern North Pyongan Province, at 7:36 a.m. Seoul time on Monday. North Korea has a launch site for rockets with longer ranges northwest of the capital Pyongyang.

The Joint Chiefs said that it was analyzing exactly what type of the projectile was fired and how far it flew. There were no immediate reports on whether any damage occurred.

South Korea's acting president, Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-Ahn, convened a meeting of the Standing Committee of the National Security Council in response on Monday morning.

South Korea's semiofficial Yonhap News Agency reported that the missile launch might be an intercontinental ballistic missile, citing an unnamed official at the South's Ministry of National Defense.

If so, the launch would signal dramatic progress that Pyongyang has made toward being able to threaten the continental U.S., and is likely to ratchet up tensions between North Korea, its neighbors and the U.S.

In his new-year address in January, North Korea leader Kim Jong Un warned that the country was completing preparations for a test launch of an ICBM.

A day later, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted in response: "It won't happen!" Mr. Trump didn't elaborate on what he meant.

The White House is in the midst of a policy review on North Korea, and is considering a wide range of policy options, including diplomacy and the possibility of military force or regime change.

The North's missile launch took place as the U.S. and South Korea were conducting annual joint military exercises that Pyongyang strongly opposes. The North regularly rails against the military drills in its state media, saying that the drills are preparations for a possible invasion of the country -- allegations that the U.S. and South Korea deny.

A Japanese government spokesman said Monday that North Korea launched four missiles, and that three had landed inside Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone.

Write to Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com and Kwanwoo Jun at kwanwoo.jun@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 05, 2017 19:05 ET (00:05 GMT)

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