North Korea fires four missiles, three land in Japanese waters

In his New Year speech, North Korea leader Kim Jong Un had said preparations for launching an ICBM were in its 'final stages'. Photograph:( AFP )

AFP Seoul, South Korea Mar 05, 2017, 11.40 PM (IST)

North Korea fired four missiles early Monday (January 6), three of which crashed into Japan-controlled waters, according to authorities in Tokyo and South Korea.

"In terms of the range, it is around 1,000 kilometres," South's military said, adding Seoul and the US were "closely analysing" tracking data for further details.

South Korea's defence ministry said the projectiles were test-fired from North Pyongyang province "around 7.36 am" (2236 GMT).

Moments later, Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told the parliament: "North Korea today fired four ballistic missiles almost simultaneously and they flew some 1,000 kilometres (620 miles)." 

The latest test-fires come a month after North Korea had launched a ballistic missile just days after US President Donald Trump assumed power.

North Korea is barred by the United Nations from launching any nuclear missile or use of any ballistic missile technology.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted an unnamed military official as saying the latest launch might be of an intercontinental ballistic missile that could strike the United States.

North leader Kim Jong-Un has repeatedly warned of striking the US with nuclear missiles.

Just weeks before Donald Trump's inauguration as the country's 45th president, Kim had promised to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) any time soon.

In his New Year's speech this year, Kim said that the preparation for launching an ICBM was in its "final stages".

But the nature of Monday's missiles are yet to be determined.

Visiting a North Korean army headquarters unit, leader Kim Jong-Un ordered the troops to "set up thorough countermeasures of a merciless strike against the enemy's sudden air assault", the state-run Korean Central News Agency said on the day the Foal Eagle exercises started.

Pyongyang has conducted five nuclear tests in the last ten years and fired 20 ballistic missiles in 2016 alone, but it is yet to test-fire an ICBM, according to The New York Times.

Pyongyang's yet another defiant test-fire is likely to test the Donald Trump administration yet again.

Despite a raft of sanctions imposed on the reclusive nation, Kim's North has gone ahead developing its nuclear capability.

Tokyo stocks open lower

Tokyo stocks opened lower on Monday after the yen rose and as investors awaited more information on North Korea's firing of ballistic missiles, three of which landed in Japanese waters.

The benchmark Nikkei 225 index  fell 0.52 per cent, or 100.67 points, to 19,368.50 in early trading, while the Topix index of all first-section issues was down 0.35 per cent, or 5.40 points, at 1,552.65.

(WION with inputs from AFP)