Japan, South Korea markets muted after North Korean missile tests

Japan, South Korea markets muted after North Korean missile tests

The test launches appeared to be a reaction to huge US-South Korean military drills last week which those countries consider routine but which are viewed as an invasion rehearsal by Kim Jong-un.

South Korea's acting president Hwang Kyo-ahn on Monday (March 6) presided at a National Security Council (NSC) meeting and condemned the North's ballistic missiles launches.

"These missile launches clearly show that North Korea has developed a new threat", Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters in Tokyo.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said in January that the country was close to test-firing an ICBM, although experts are unclear on how true that is, and some believe the country could be years away from developing technology capable of striking the US with a nuclear warhead.

The missiles were launched from the Tongchang-ri region near the North's border with China and flew about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), South Korean military officials said.

The area is the home of the North's Seohae Satellite Station, where it has conducted prohibited long-range rocket launches in recent years. It was not immediately clear whether the four missiles fired Monday were ICBMs.

The head of the United Nation's International Atomic Energy Agency, Yukiya Amano, called on North Korea to fully comply with its obligations under Security Council resolutions.

It is not yet possible to say what type of missiles North Korea fired into the Japanese EEZ. -South Korea alliance for a preemptive attack and has asked for the exercises to stop.

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Meanwhile, North Korea warned that military exercises by the US and South Korea were driving the region towards nuclear disaster.

The missiles were launched yesterday morning from an area near the north-western Tongchang-ri missile site and are widely believed to be in protest against ongoing US-South Korea military exercises.

North Korea on Monday launched four missiles, with three landing close to Japan.

Speaking to CNN, a United States official said a preliminary assessment found that North Korea launched a total of five extended-range SCUD missiles, one of which failed.

North Korea's development of a long-range nuclear missile capable of striking the United States looms large over the Trump administration.

The program was first introduced in December 2013, when Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced - without mentioning North Korea specifically - that the US would use "cyber warfare, directed energy and electronic attacks" to defend against enemy strikes.

The latest provocations could have an impact on the North Korea policy that the administration of US President Donald Trump is putting together.

This year's joint drill is clearly meant to rattle North Korea, which had requested it be suspended or scaled back.