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South Korea Military says North Korea Fired Missiles Into Waters Off Coast -- 2nd Update

6 Mar 2017 1:30 am
By Jonathan Cheng and Kwanwoo Jun 

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

The Joint Chiefs said the projectiles were 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 longer-range rockets northwest of the capital Pyongyang.

The Joint Chiefs said the projectiles flew about 620 miles and that the South Korean authorities were analyzing exactly what type of projectiles were fired. There were no immediate signs of any damage.

A Japanese government spokesman said Monday that North Korea launched four missiles, and that three had landed inside Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone, an area extending about 230 miles out to sea from its coastline.

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. Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he would hold a meeting of its National Security Council to discuss the missile launches.

South Korea's semiofficial Yonhap News Agency reported that the projectiles may have included an intercontinental ballistic missile, citing an unnamed official at the defense ministry.

If so, the launch would signal dramatic progress by the North toward being able to threaten the continental U.S. It would also likely ratchet up tensions between North Korea, its neighbors, and the U.S.

A spokesman for the Pentagon in Washington didn't immediately comment.

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.

The White House is undergoing a policy review on North Korea, and is considering a wide range of options, including diplomacy and possible military action to force regime change.

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

--Alastair Gale in Tokyo contributed to this article.

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

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

March 05, 2017 20:30 ET (01:30 GMT)

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