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SEOUL, April 5. /TASS/. North Korea fired a projectile, believed to be a ballistic missile, toward the Sea of Japan, South Korean and Japanese media and officials said on Wednesday.
The previous missile tests in the area took place last August, when a North Korean submarine fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a media statement that a medium-range ballistic missile took off from the outskirts of the coastal city of Sinpo in the South Hamgyong Province at 00:42 Moscow time Wednesday and splashed into the sea about 60 kilometers away at 00:51 Moscow time. The launch was tracked by a South Korean navy ship, equipped with the Aegis integrated naval weapons system and an early warning radar.
According to South Korean assessments, North Korea launched the KN-15 ballistic missile, also known as Pukguksong-2. This new nuclear-capable intermediate-range ballistic missile was launched for the first time in February.
According to the document, Wednesday's launch took place in the run-up to the upcoming US-China summit meeting and was intended to test ballistic missile technologies. A previous such test took place two weeks ago and ended in failure.
"It is too early to say whether the launch was a success," the statement reads.
Japan’s Kyodo news agency said, citing information obtained from South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, that the ballistic missile flew about 60 kilometers toward the Sea of Japan and produced no damage.
Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said the missile "flew several dozens of kilometers and fell in the Sea of Japan, outside the exclusive economic zone of Japan."
"No damage has been recorded at the moment," he told reporters. "These actions by North Korea pose a serious problem from the point of view of civil maritime and air traffic in the area."
The Japanese official said the launch could be a failure. "There is a possibility that the launch was a failure. All available information is currently being analyzed," he said.
He called the launch a "provocation," adding that it was carried out in breach of UN Security Council resolutions, which prohibit North Korea from developing ballistic missile technologies. "We express a resolute protest," Suga went on.
Shortly after the launch, the Japanese Security Council gathered for an emergency meeting to be attended by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, along with Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida and Defense Minister Tomomi Inada.
‘We seriously believe that more provocations may follow," Abe said ahead of the meeting, adding that Tokyo will continue to closely cooperate on the North Korean issue with its partners from the United States and South Korea and will take all measures needed to ensure the safety of its citizens.
South Korea's National Security Council also gathered to discuss the launch.
US military and officials also confirmed the information. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson released a brief statement shortly after the reports, saying that a launch of "yet another intermediate-range ballistic missile" took place.
"The United States has spoken enough about North Korea. We have no further comment," he added.