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North Korea Fires Three Ballistic Missiles as G20 Leaders Meet in China 

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The missile launches were the latest in a series by the isolated North this year in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, supported by China, that ban all ballistic missile-related activities by the North.

Ju-min Park reports: North Korea fired three ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast on Monday, the South Korean and U.S. militaries said, as the leaders of the Group of 20 major economies held a summit in China, the North’s main diplomatic ally.

“We are still analyzing details but this is a grave threat to our nation’s security, and we express deep concern.”

— Japan Defence Ministry

The missiles were fired from a region south of the capital Pyongyang just after noon (10.00 p.m. ET) and flew about 1,000 km (600 miles), hitting Japan’s air defense identification zone, South Korea’s Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

“We are still analyzing details but this is a grave threat to our nation’s security, and we express deep concern,” the Japan Defence Ministry said in a statement.

The launches drew immediate condemnation from the United States, which described them as “reckless,” and diplomats said the U.N. Security Council will discuss them behind closed doors on Tuesday at Washington’s and Tokyo’s requests.

The missile launches were the latest in a series by the isolated North this year in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, supported by China, that ban all ballistic missile-related activities by the North.

Pyongyang rejects the ban as infringing its sovereign right to pursue a space program and self defense.

NORK-panic

Shortly after the missile launches, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met on the sidelines of the G20 summit and agreed to cooperate on monitoring the situation, a Japanese statement said.

The South’s military said the missiles were medium-range Rodong-class, launched as a show of force timed to coincide with the G20 summit. The U.S. Strategic Command said in a statement that two of the three were presumed to be “intermediate range” ballistic missiles and that the third was still being assessed.

In 2014, the North fired two Rodong medium-range missiles just as Park and Abe were meeting U.S. President Barack Obama at the Hague to discuss responding to the North’s arms program. Read the rest of this entry »

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