North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the Sea of Japan, the Yonhap news agency reported, citing the South Korean military and Japanese Coast Guard.

Iran PressAsia: North Korea sees ballistic missile launches as a countermeasure to joint US-South Korean drills that are increasing tensions in the region, the North Korean Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

According to the Japanese Coast Guard, North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan. The missiles were fired at 15-minute intervals and landed outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone.

Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters in Tokyo, "One missile covered a distance of 350 km at a maximum flight altitude of 100 km. Another missile covered about 800 km, rising to a height of 50 km."

It was reported earlier that only one ballistic missile was launched.

North Korea on Tuesday morning also fired a ballistic missile that flew over the territory of Japan and fell in the Pacific Ocean.

The test-launched ballistic missile was the first in five years to travel over Japan. The latest launch saw the missile fly for 4,600 kilometers (2,858 miles), which is farther than previous launches. The projectiles tested last week flew between 300 and 400 kilometers.

The US and South Korea launched four missiles in protest of North Korea's Tuesday ballistic missile test.

Leaders in the west condemned the unannounced missile test.

Earlier on Wednesday, the US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said the United States aims to increase sanctions on North Korea in response to its latest ballistic missile launches.

"We need to turn quickly to strengthening the 718 sanctions region, not considering sanctions relief," Thomas-Greenfield said during a UN Security Council meeting on North Korea on Wednesday.

By contrast, Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Anna Evstigneeva said sanctions do not ensure security in East Asia and produce zero results when it comes to addressing matters concerning North Korea.

Chinese Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Geng Shuang echoed Russia's statement, adding that sanctions cannot solve everything and would not help ease the situation with North Korea.

The Russian and Chinese envoys said North Korea's ballistic missile launches are not random, pointing out that the United States and its allies in the region have conducted joint military exercises that concern Pyongyang.

Russia believes that North Korea's missile test launches are a consequence of the United States military activities in the region, Russian Deputy Permanent Representative to the United Nations Anna Evstigneeva said.

"It is obvious that the missile launches by Pyongyang are a consequence of a short-sighted confrontational military activity surrounding this country conducted by the United States, which hurts their own partners in the region, and also hurts the situation in Northeast Asia as a whole," Evstigneeva said during a UN Security Council meeting on North Korea on Wednesday.

Evstigneeva added that the situation on the Korean peninsula cannot be taken separately from what is going on in the world.

The Western member states of the UN Security Council requested the meeting on North Korea that was held on Wednesday afternoon.


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