North Korea fired eight short-range ballistic missiles into the waters off its east coast on Sunday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, a move that Japan has called “unprecedented.”
The missiles were launched from the Sunan area, near the North Korean capital Pyongyang, into waters east of the Korean peninsula between 9:08 a.m. and 9:43 a.m. local time in Seoul on Sunday, according to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
South Korea’s national security chief Kim Sung-han will hold a meeting of the National Security Council’s standing committee to discuss the launch, the presidential office said.
The missile marks the 17th launch by North Korea this year. The last, on May 25, came just as US President Joe Biden had concluded his trip to Asia and was returning back to the United States.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida “strongly protested” North Korea’s multiple missile launches, telling reporters that they are a clear violation of UN resolutions.
Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi called the launch “unprecedented” and confirmed at least six, but possibly more missiles, fired by North Korea are estimated to have fallen outside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
“The extremely large number of launches from at least three locations in a short period of time is unprecedented,” he said, adding missile launches that threaten international peace and security cannot be tolerated.
Japan has formally protested North Korea’s latest actions via diplomatic channels with Beijing, Kishi said.
In response to Sunday’s launch, the South Korean military strengthened its surveillance and is “closely cooperating and maintaining full readiness posture with the US,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
The launch also comes a day after the navies of South Korea and the United States concluded a three-day combined exercise in the waters off Japan’s Okinawa, South Korea’s military confirmed to CNN.
In a press release, the US Navy said it had deployed its nuclear-powered aircraft carrier the USS Ronald Reagan along with the Carrier Strike Group 5.
Also involved in the exercise was the South Korean Navy’s ROKS Sejong The Great and amphibious assault ship Marado, the US Navy said.