North Korea launched four ballistic missiles on Monday in another challenge to President Donald Trump.
Three of the missiles landed provocatively close to America’s ally Japan, AFP reports.
Seoul and Washington began annual joint military exercises last week that always infuriate Pyongyang, with the North’s military warning of “merciless nuclear counter-action”.
Under leader Kim Jong-Un, Pyongyang has ambitions to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of reaching the US mainland — which Trump has vowed will not happen.
Seoul said four missiles were fired from North Pyongan province into the East Sea — its name for the Sea of Japan — and that South Korea and the US were “closely analysing” tracking data for further details.
The missiles travelled around 1,000 kilometres (620 miles) and reached an altitude of 260 kilometres, said a spokesman for South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, adding they were unlikely to be ICBMs.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said three of the North Korean missiles came down in Tokyo’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) — waters extending 200 nautical miles (370 kilometres) from its coast.
“This clearly shows North Korea has entered a new stage of threat,” Abe told parliament.
The North’s repeated launches “clearly violate UN Security Council resolutions”, he said. “We can never tolerate this.”
Tokyo’s chief government spokesman Yoshihide Suga added that Japan was considering calling for an emergency Security Council meeting.
Pyongyang carried out two atomic tests last year and a series of missile launches, but Monday was only the second time its devices had entered Japan’s EEZ.