(North Korea's "super-large multiple rocket launchers" test-fired on Oct. 31, 2019)[Korean Central News Agency/Kyodo]
SEOUL - North Korea fired at least three unidentified projectiles toward the Sea of Japan on Monday, South Korea's military said, marking the second such launch known to have been conducted by the North this year.
The projectiles were launched from the Sondok area of South Hamgyong Province and flew as far as 200 kilometers after reaching an altitude of about 50 km, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said, adding that South Korea is on alert for possible additional launches.
A senior South Korean military official said a partial assessment suggested that at least two different types of projectiles were fired from a multiple rocket launcher, part of a "joint strike drill" of units of the Korean People's Army.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said during a parliamentary committee session in Tokyo that multiple projectiles "believed to have been ballistic missiles" were launched and are presumed to have dropped into the Sea of Japan.
The Japanese government said the projectiles are estimated to have flown northeast for about 100-200 km.
The government had received no immediate reports of damage to aircraft or vessels, Abe said, adding the North Korean action constituted a "threat to the peace and safety of our country and region" as well as a "serious issue for the international community."
The government convened a meeting of the National Security Council to discuss the launch.
South Korea's national security director, Chung Eui Yong, held a video conference with related ministers to analyze North Korea's intentions and the overall security situation on the Korean Peninsula, according to the presidential office.
Last week, North Korea fired from the Wonsan area in the east two projectiles believed to have been short-range ballistic missiles, its first projectile launch this year.
The projectiles flew northeast toward the Sea of Japan.
Like the latest launch, the March 2 launch was viewed by the South Korean military as part of a joint strike drill of North Korean military units during the winter.
U.S. President Donald Trump has indicated that he was not concerned by the earlier launch as it involved short-range ballistic missiles, not longer-range missiles that could threaten the continental United States.
Five European countries, such as Britain, France and Germany, issued a statement condemning North Korea for the earlier launch, prompting the North to warn that such a criticism could become "a fuse that will trigger our yet another momentous reaction."
North Korea carried out multiple test firings of projectiles between May and November last year, including short-range ballistic missiles.