Washington says it has begun the deployment of its THAAD missile system to South Korea as North Korea announces that its latest missile tests were practice for attacking US military bases in Japan.
The launches were carried out by a unit "tasked to strike the bases of the US imperialist aggressor forces in Japan in contingency," said the North’s official KCNA news agency on Tuesday.
It added that it was carried out under the direct supervision of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un, who personally gave the launch orders.
On Monday, Pyongyang launched four missiles, three of which according to Tokyo went down in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
New stage of North Korean threat
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe have engaged in a phone conversation in which they agreed that the threat from North Korea had "entered a new stage."
"Japan and the United States confirmed" the tests were in violation of UN Security Council resolutions and were a "clear challenge to the region and international community," said Abe after the call.
"President Trump said the United States is 100 percent with Japan and he told me to convey his remarks to the Japanese people…He said he wanted us to trust him and the United States 100 percent," he added.
UNSC to hold emergency meeting
Also on Monday, the United Nations Security Council announced that it will be holding a meeting on Wednesday over the North’s missile tests.
It noted that the meeting was being convened on the request of the US and Japan.
UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres also slammed the tests, while calling on North Korea to "refrain from further provocations."
- UNSC urges strict implementation of bans on Pyongyang after missile test
- EU slaps additional sanctions on North Korea over nuclear, missile tests
North Korea’s missile launches coincided with massive joint military drills being carried out by the US and South Korea on the Korean Peninsula. The war games have been condemned by Pyongyang as “dangerous nuclear war drills against the DPRK at its doorstep.”
The US has military forces in South Korea — a long-time adversary of the North — and is deploying an advanced missile system there in response to perceived threats from Pyongyang. The US also occasionally deploys nuclear-powered warships and aircraft capable of carrying atomic weapons in the region.
US starts THAAD deployment to South Korea
Also on Tuesday, the US announced that it has started the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile system to South Korea.
"Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday's launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy THAAD to South Korea," said a statement released by the US Pacific Command.
Following the latest missile tests by North Korea, the White House announced that the US will hasten its deployment of its advanced missile system to South Korea.
"The Trump administration is taking steps to enhance our ability to defend against North Korea's ballistic missiles such as through the deployment of a THAAD battery to South Korea," said White House spokesman Sean Spicer.