NK fires four ballistic missiles; three fall into Japan waters

North Korea's Kim Jong Un has vowed to build missiles that can reach the U.S.

It was launched from the Tongchang-ri region, where a missile base is located, at around 7.36am South Korean time, the military added.

Given the number and range of flights, the projectiles do not appear to be intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) capable of reaching the western part of the US mainland, the defense ministry said in a press briefing.

During last year's drills, North Korea fired multiple short to medium range missiles and announced it could place nuclear warheads on its weapons.

Tensions have been rising over North Korea, which also conducted a missile test during Abe's state visit to the USA last month and is suspected of being behind the assassination of its leader's half brother in Malaysia.

"The latest launches of ballistic missiles clearly demonstrate evidence of a new threat from North Korea".

The missile was sacked at about 7:36 a.m. Monday (5:36 p.m. Sunday ET), a South Korean military official told NBC News.

The program was initiated by President Obama three years ago, and officials say that since then a "large number" of North Korea's test launches have failed, either veering dramatically off course or crashing into the sea.

"Now that the US imperialists and the South Korean puppet forces again kicked off the unsafe nuclear war drills against [North Korea] at its doorstep, our army will counter them with the toughest counteractions", a North Korean military spokesman said a day after the maneuvers.

The official said that the missile was launched from Northern Pyongan province Tongchang-ri, on Monday morning.

Japan has been on the alert recently over North Korea's advances in developing nuclear and ballistic missile technology.

Trump on Twitter in early January said North Korea's claim that is was in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the US was an empty threat and that it would "never happen".

This and a number of previous launches were considered to be in violation of the UNSC resolutions by the United Nations.

Some of the missiles landed in waters as close as 300km to Japan's northwest coast, Japan's Defence Minister Tomomi Inada said in Tokyo.

The Trump White House has yet to release any statement on the launch, but U.S. State Department Acting Spokesperson Mark Toner noted that the United States "strongly condemns" the launch.

  • Larry Hoffman