South Korean and U.S. military officials say North Korea carried out a ballistic missile test early Wednesday.
U.S. officials say two missiles were launched. One was successful. The other missile reportedly exploded immediately after launch.
The test is the fourth such missile launch in recent weeks, although North Korea faces strong international restrictions linked to the activity.
The United Nations, South Korea and the U.S. have placed economic and trade sanctions on North Korea because of its nuclear and missile programs.
In addition, the U.S. has placed sanctions on North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong-un, for human rights abuses.
The launch Wednesday took place from the country’s western Hwanghae province. One missile traveled about 1,000 kilometers to the east before landing close to or in Japanese waters.
Japan's Prime Minister called the launch a “grave threat” to his country’s security. Japan’s defense ministry said the missile fell into the sea inside the country’s exclusive economic zone.
The United States condemned the launch as a possible threat to U.S. interests in the area Wednesday. State Department spokeswoman Anna Richey-Allen said, “We remain prepared to work with our allies and partners around the world to respond to further DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) provocations, as well as to defend ourselves and our allies from any attack or provocation.”
UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon said he was “deeply troubled” by the test. A UN spokesman urged North Korea “to reverse its course and return to the process of sincere dialogue.”
The launch comes after South Korea and the United States announced the deployment of a U.S.-made missile defense system known as THAAD.
North Korea is said to be seeking to develop a warhead small enough to be placed on a ballistic missile. South Korean defense officials say North Korea does not have the technical ability to do this yet.
The latest missile tests also come as the U.S. and South Korea prepare to hold additional military exercises in the area this month.
North Korea denounced the training as provocative and preparation for an invasion.
I’m Mario Ritter.
This story is based on reports from VOA's Joshua Fatzick and Victor Beattie. Mario Ritter adapted their reports for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.
Words in This Story
ballistic missile – adj. a kind of missile able to travel long distances before returning to earth
sanctions – n. actions, usually economic or trade penalties, placed on a country to cause it to follow international law
grave – adj. very serious
exclusive – adj. available to only one person or group
provocations – n. acts meant to cause tension
sincere – adj. honest, to show true feelings
dialogue – n. discussion, talk between two or more people