SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile early today that flew 280 miles and landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.
President Moon Jae-in of South Korea called a Security Council meeting for later today to discuss the launch, and Japan's Cabinet secretary condemned the launch, coming a week after the North last tested a ballistic missile, as a provocation.
"Japan absolutely cannot tolerate North Korea's repeated provocative actions," said Yoshihide Suga, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's chief Cabinet secretary, adding that the missile appears to have landed in the Sea of Japan, where fishing and cargo ships are active. There were no immediate reports of damage to any ships or aircraft operating in the area, he said.
The launch was the first since North Korea tested its Pukguksong-2 missile last week. The Pukguksong-2 is a midrange ballistic missile that South Korean officials have said cannot fly far enough to reach U.S. military bases in Guam.
The U.S. Pacific Command said in a statement that a short-range ballistic missile was tracked from North Korea for six minutes before it landed in the Sea of Japan.
In March, when North Korea launched four missiles at once, three of them landed within Japan's exclusive economic zone, which extends 200 nautical miles from Japan's coast. Those launches raised concerns that the North Korean government of Kim Jong Un had developed the ability to pose a greater threat to its neighbors and potentially overwhelm any missile defense systems.
The Pukguksong-2, first tested in February, represents key strides in the North's missile technologies. The missile is fired from a mobile launch vehicle. And unlike most North Korean missiles, it used solid fuel, rather than liquid, which means it can be prepared ahead of time and fired quickly, making it difficult for the North's enemies to detect an attack.
North Korea, which is prohibited from testing ballistic missiles under a series of U.N. Security Council resolutions, has said it would start mass-producing the Pukguksong-2.