Top Stories
Top Stories
Aerospace & Defense

North Korea test-fires submarine-launched ballistic missile that lands in Japan defense zone

Why is the US doing military drills with South Korea?

North Korea fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile off its east coast, South Korea's military said on Wednesday, the latest in a string of missile launches by the isolated country in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions.

North Korea test-fired the missile at around 5:30 a.m. (0830 GMT) near the coastal city of Sinpo, where satellite imagery shows a submarine base to be located, and traveled about 500 kilometers (311 miles), officials at South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Defence Ministry told Reuters.

The projectile landed in Japan's air defense identification zone (ADIZ), an area of control designated by countries to help maintain air security, South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the latest missile launch was "unforgivable" and posed a grave threat to Japan's security, adding his government had lodged a stern protest against its isolated neighbor.

"This poses a grave threat to Japan's security, and is an unforgivable act that damages regional peace and stability markedly," Abe told reporters at the prime minister's residence.

What's behind the tension in the Korean Peninsula?

The launch comes two days after rival South Korea and the United States began annual military exercises in the South that North Korea condemns as a preparation for invasion. North Korea had threatened retaliation for the exercises and has launched missiles in the past as a response.

South Korea's presidential office had said it planned to hold a national security council meeting at 7:30 a.m. Seoul time to discuss the missile test.

North Korea has become further isolated after a January nuclear test, its fourth, and the launch of a long-range rocket in February brought tightened UN sanctions.

It has launched numerous missiles of various types this year, including one this month that landed in or near Japanese-controlled waters.

The North's missile tests this year include a launch from a submarine last month that appeared to have failed, according to South Korea's military. The July launch came a day after South Korea and the United States announced plans for the South to host a sophisticated U.S. anti-missile system.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula were exacerbated by the recent defection of North Korea's deputy ambassador in London to South Korea, an embarrassing setback to the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Follow CNBC International on and Facebook.