Tokyo, Seoul Concerned Over New Pyongyang's Missile Launches
11:44 06.03.2017(updated 11:55 06.03.2017)
Japan and South Korea expressed concern on Monday over the launch of four missiles by North Korea in the direction of the Sea of Japan.
MOSCOW (Sputnik) – Earlier in the day, the South Korean Defense Ministry reported about a launch of an unidentified missile by North Korea at 7:36 a.m. local time (22:36 GMT on Sunday), however, later in the day, Japan said that Pyongyang had launched a total of four missiles. Although North Korea has not commented on the missile launch yet, last week Pyongyang had promised to respond to the South Korean-US military drills, which kicked off on Wednesday.
According to South Korean media, the launched missiles could be intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), but the country's military, as well as the representatives of the United States put it into question.
The Japanese Defense Ministry said that three of them plunged into the Sea of Japan within the Japanese exclusive economic zone and did not inflict any damages. South Korean military reported that the missiles had flown more than 600 miles.
Both South Korea's and Japanese authorities have already responded to the missile launches by making several statements, holding conversations with US officials and condemning the move.
The government of South Korea strongly condemned North Korea's launches, describing them as a threat to peace and security in the region and a violation of the UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, prohibiting Pyongyang from ballistic missile tests.
"This is not only a gross and obvious violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions but also a serious threat to peace and security on the Korean Peninsula and the international community in general. The government [of South Korea] strongly condemns it," the country's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promised to take steps to protect the country's citizens from North Korea's "provocations," calling the launches "unacceptable" and adding that they were posing a threat to the country's security.
Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida had also held a number of phone talks with the country's partners on the issue.
"We have already held contacts with the United States and South Korea, but now we are also considering the possibility of contacts with China and Russia," Kishida told journalists.
The minister added that Tokyo would cooperate with both Washington and Seoul and would call on other states to adhere to the UNSC resolutions prohibiting Pyongyang from conducting ballistic missile tests.
Tokyo also held two sessions of the National Security Council on the issue.
US Department of State Acting Spokesperson Mark Toner also condemned the launch and called on the international community to show North Korea that its activities were unacceptable and could have consequences. Washington urged Pyongyang to refrain from provocations that could pose threat to international peace and stability.
EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said that the missile launches demonstrated the gravity of security threats, requiring Brussels to play a greater role as a global and regional security provider.
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