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On 6 March, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles into the sea off Japan’s northwest coast. Three fell within Japan’s declared Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), as close as 300km to the coast, according to a statement from the Defence Ministry in Tokyo.

The missiles flew an average distance of 1,000km and reached altitudes of 260km and are therefore unlikely to have been intercontinental In nature, according to South Korean sources. Analysts in Seoul and the US are jointly conducting an investigation to determine the technical characteristics and possible objectives of the launch, which originated in the Tongchang-ri region close to the Chinese border.

"The launches are clearly in violation of (UN) Security Council resolutions. It is an extremely dangerous action," Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told parliament.

The launches are seen by many as a step in the “strong retaliatory measures Pyongyang threatened after the start of annual joint US-South Korean exercises last week.

Tim Mahon

 

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