North Korea fires barrage of missiles towards Sea of Japan

Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters following North Korea’s missile launch (AP)
Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida speaks to reporters following North Korea’s missile launch (AP)

North Korea fired at least 10 suspected short-range ballistic missiles towards the Sea of Japan on Thursday, South Korea’s military said.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the missiles were launched from the Sunan area at about 6.14am local time on Thursday towards the east.

The statement said the missiles travelled approximately 350km (217 miles) before plunging into the sea.

Seoul described the launch as a “clear provocation” from Kim Jong-un’s government in Pyongyang, and one that “seriously threatens the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula”.

Japan’s prime minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that the suspected missiles were believed to have landed in waters outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone and there were no immediate reports of any damage.

He said Tokyo “strongly condemns” the launches, which are in violation of UN Security Council resolutions against North Korea.

Thursday’s missile barrage comes just days after Pyongyang’s latest attempt to put a second spy satellite into orbit ended in failure after it exploded mid-air.

A video released by South Korea’s military and Japan’s public broadcaster NHK showed a projectile exploding into a fireball in the night sky.

North Korea insists it has the right to launch satellites and test missiles, citing perceived US-led military threats. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un considers spy satellites essential for monitoring US and South Korean military activities and for bolstering the threat of his nuclear-capable missiles.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula have escalated recently due to increased North Korean weapons tests and intensified joint military exercises by South Korea, the United States, and Japan.

North Korea also recently launched a fleet of balloons reportedly filled with trash and excrement across the heavily fortified border with South Korea, sparking alarm in the neighbouring country.

More than 200 balloons are on the way, the South Korean military said and advised people to stay indoors.

The US military’s Indo-Pacific Command also condemned the launches on Thursday and called on North Korea “to refrain from further unlawful and destabilising acts”, according to The Japan Times.

Additional reporting by agencies