World Media

North Korea fires missile into waters near Japan

Japan, along with the United States and South Korea, condemned North Korea's ballistic missile launches Wednesday, including one that landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, and pressed for a quick U.N. Security Council response.

The Japanese defence ministry said the other missile landed inside its exclusive economic zone (EEZ) - the 200 nautical miles of ocean around a country over which it has jurisdiction.

North Korea fired two intermediate-range missiles simultaneously, but one appeared to explode on takeoff.

North Korea fired a ballistic missile around 7:50 a.m. Wednesday, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe called the missile launch a "grave threat" to Japan's security and expressed strong objections to the North's continued ballistic missile aspirations.

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Britain's deputy United Nations ambassador Peter Wilson said as he headed into the emergency council meeting they were concerned that it was the first time a North Korean missile had landed in Japan's EEZ.

North Korea is said to be seeking to develop a warhead small enough to be placed on a ballistic missile.

The North later said the launches were part of an exercise simulating preemptive strikes against South Korean ports and airfields used by the United States military.

The U.S. has almost 30,000 troops based on the peninsula, which from next year will host a contentious American missile defense system known as THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense).

"North Korea should realize that its slander and sophistry can not justify its nuclear development and drive a wedge among South Koreans", the ministry said. All are in defiance of a United Nations resolution prohibiting Pyongyang from developing ballistic missiles.

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On July 19, Pyongyang launched two medium-range Rodong missiles and one shorter-range Scud missile.

North Korea came under the latest round of U.N. Security Council sanctions in March after its fourth nuclear test in January and the launch of a long-range rocket the following month.

Japan's Bessho responded that his country had not done anything to invite Wednesday's missile launch and said there was no justification for it which is why "we are strongly condemning the launch".

Sources well-versed in Japan-U.S. security issues said that since the THAAD battery is from the outset a U.S. installation, South Korea could not be involved in the provision of information to Japan.

The regime's latest missile launches are expected to further ignite discussions on the deployment of the US missile defense system on the Korean peninsula. The U.S.is set to circulate the draft statement to UN Security Council members, but whether Beijing will agree remains a question.

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