North Korea conducted yet another weapons test Monday (its third missile launch in as many weeks), successfully firing a short-range ballistic missile into Japan's exclusive economic waters in open defiance of United Nations sanctions and growing global pressure from the U.S., China, Japan and others.
North Korea has increased its test-firing of ballistic missiles over recent months as it seeks to build nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the USA mainland.
Japan and South Korea strongly condemned Monday's missile launch, which landed in the former's exclusive economic maritime zone.
"As we agreed at the recent G7, the issue of North Korea is a top priority for the worldwide community", Shinzo Abe said in a televised address Monday.
South Korea and Japan immediately issued strong protests, with Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe promising "concrete action" in response to the test, and South Korean Defence Chiefs saying the North would face "strong punishment from our military".
He called North a direct threat to the United States.
The missile was launched from the coastal town of Wonsan, the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
Scud missile parts and equipment found in the cargo hold aboard the North Korean vessel, "So San" discovered after being boarded by Spanish Special Forces in the Gulf of Aden on December 9, 2002.
US President Donald Trump was reportedly briefed on Monday morning's launch.
April 5: North Korea fires a missile on the eve of a meeting between Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping. The military said it was a short-range Scud missilethat flew about 450km (280 miles). In the event of war, they would bring danger to China and to Russian Federation as well.
On Sunday, North Korea state media reported that there had been a test of a new anti-aircraft weapon system and released pictures of the launch, which was supposedly watched by Kim Jong-un.
Japan's Defense Ministry also confirmed the missile launch.
"It is a severe threat to the peace and stability of not only the Korean Peninsula, but also the global community", a statement from South Korea's Foreign Affairs Ministry said.
In the so-called two-plus-two talks, the two countries' foreign and defense ministers are expected to meet in Washington to discuss steps to beef up a ballistic missile defense system and review the duties of the USA military and the Self-Defense Forces, the officials said. In an interview with a Television channel yesterday, he said United States assumes that North Koea is getting better with each test.
May 10: Liberal Moon Jae-in is inaugurated as South Korea's president.
Military analysts speculate that Pyongyang may be attempting to develop ballistic missiles capable of targeting American aircraft carriers at sea.