North Korea test-fired four unidentified ballistic missiles early Monday morning, according to the Japanese prime minister.
The South Korean military initially reported that a single unidentified projectile was fired at 7:36 a.m. from a North Korean missile base in the Tongchang-ri region, near the border with China. Ministry of National Defense spokesman Kwon Ki-joon now reports that “several projectiles” sailed across the the North and landed in the Sea of Japan.
The missiles flew approximately 620 miles. Three of the missiles landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone, coming within 300 miles of Japan.
North Korea is prohibited by the United Nations from conducting nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests. Despite international pressure, North Korea is determined to further develop its weapons program. Last month, the North tested a new ballistic missile, a solid-fueled, mid-range projectile capable of being fired from a road-mobile launcher.
The latest test, like the one before it, was personally supervised by North Korean despot Kim Jong-un.
The test comes several days after the U.S. and South Korea began the annual joint Foal Eagle drill. After the exercises began, North Korea threatened to “mercilessly foil the nuclear war racket of the aggressors with its treasured nuclear sword.” The North said Friday that “new types of strategic weapons will soar‘ if Washington and Seoul continue to provoke Pyongyang.
The South Korean military is working to determine the type of missiles tested. At least one of the weapons was fired from the same area North Korea tested a long-range rocket last year. A South Korean defense official suggested that one of the missiles could be an intercontinental ballistic missile, but it is too early to say with any certainty.
In his New Year’s address, the young North Korean dictator said that his country has “reached the final stage of preparations to test-launch an intercontinental ballistic missile.”
Shortly thereafter, the foreign ministry said that the country was prepared to test an ICBM at any time. “Just because the U.S. is located more than ten thousand kilometers away does not make the country safe,” the state-run Rodong Sinmun later commented, “Soon our ICBM will send the shiver down [America’s] spine.”
In response to Kim’s earlier belligerence and bluster, President Donald Trump said firmly, “It won’t happen!”
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