N. Korea launches two ballistic missiles into Sea of Japan

© Kim Hong-Ji
Pyongyang has fired two ballistic missile off its east coast into the Sea of Japan, with one burning up mid air. The launch comes after the US slapped it with new sanctions in attempt to punish Pyongyang for its ballistic missile and nuclear tests.

The South Korean military said that the first missile took off at around 5:55am near Sukchon, in the western part of the country, and flew roughly 800 miles before falling in the Sea of Japan. The type of the rocket was not immediately known, but the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) alleged it to have been a medium range Rodong missile.

“The missile hit waters within the Japanese Air Defense Identification Zone,” the JCS said.

JCS says that the rocket appears to have been launched from a a mobile missile vehicle using transporter erector launcher.

North Korea also fired a second rocket 22 minutes after the first launch according to radar data which lost its trajectory at an altitude of 17 km, as the military believes it may have exploded in the air before reaching the target area.

"An analysis so far indicates it was a missile, but more examination is needed to verify the data," the JCS said.

US officials confirmed that a missile launched from North Korean territory had been detected and tracked, according to Reuters.

Meanwhile the US Secretary of State, John Kerry, called on Pyongyang to “refrain from actions that further raise tensions in the region and focus instead on taking concrete steps toward fulfilling its international commitments and obligations,” the statement read.

Washington also said that it will honor its “commitments to the defense of its allies, including the Republic of Korea and Japan.”

At the same time the Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida said that Tokyo contacted the North Korean embassy in Beijing, saying the missile fire violated UN Security Council resolutions.

The latest in a series of controversial military test comes shortly after Washington introduced new sanctions against the North, blocking businesses from any dealings with Pyongyang, including transportation, mining, energy or financial services.

The “robust” new sanctions, imposed on the heels of a UN resolution condemning Pyongyang’s recent nuclear test, also block US individuals and entities from the exportation or reexportation of any goods, services or technology to North Korea, as well as new investments.