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Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD)

Iran Press TV

Japan, South Korea slam North Korea's new ballistic missile launch

Iran Press TV

Fri Mar 18, 2016 6:2AM

South Korea and Japan have denounced North Korea over its latest ballistic missile launch, demanding Pyongyang to avoid such moves that could heighten tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

Speaking to parliament, Japanese Premier Shinzo Abe said on Friday that Tokyo had criticized Pyongyang's recent missile launch into the Sea of Japan as "extremely problematic" and urged the North to exercise self-restraint.

"We have strongly protested North Korea. The government will continue work in close cooperation with the international community and respond firmly. While demanding strongly that North Korea show restraint, we are making doubly sure that we can respond to any situation with all means, including strengthening our surveillance systems," Abe said.

Meanwhile, South Korea's Defense Ministry in a statement described the North's missile launch as "a significant threat" to its national security.

"Our military takes the development of the situation on North Korea's nuclear and missile program seriously. North Korea's missile launch is a frontal attack against the UN Security Council Resolution and a significant threat to peace and stability in the international society," the statement said.

On March 17, North Korea launched a ballistic missile into the sea off its eastern coast amid simmering tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

A South Korean military spokesman said the missile was fired from Sukchon County in the country's southwest. The missile reportedly flew 800 kilometers into the Sea of Japan.

Pyongyang has been the target of hard-hitting United Nations sanctions over the nuclear tests and missile launches.

The UN Security Council passed a raft of economic sanctions against the country earlier this month in reaction to its latest missile launch, which Pyongyang said was meant to place an earth observation satellite into orbit. The launch was condemned by a number of countries as a disguised missile test.

Relations between North and South Korea have been turbulent for years. Seoul and Pyongyang fought a war in the early 1950s, and have been at odds ever since.

Tensions have escalated further recently following Pyongyang's fourth nuclear test in January and the start of joint military exercises by Washington and Seoul.

North Korea accuses the US of plotting with its regional allies to topple the government in Pyongyang. The country bills its nuclear capabilities as a deterrent against hostile US policies.

Pyongyang also wants Washington to dissolve its military command in Japan and South Korea, where the US has thousands of troops.

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