N. Korea fires weapons after threatening 'momentous' action

South Korea Norht Korea Launch

North Korea fired three short-range projectiles off its east coast on Monday, South Korea's military said, two days after the North threatened to take "momentous" action to protest outside condemnation over its earlier live-fire exercises.

Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the multiple kinds of projectiles fired from the eastern coastal town of Sondok flew as far as 200 kilometres (125 miles) at a maximum altitude of 50 kilometres (30 miles) before landing in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

A JCS statement said South Korea expressed "strong regret" over the launches that it said violate a past inter-Korean agreement aimed at lowering military animosities.

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FILE PHOTO - A North Korean employee works in a factory of a South Korean company at the Joint Industrial Park in Kaesong industrial zone, a few miles inside North Korea from the heavily fortified border December 19, 2013. REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo
Elementary school Graduates wait to attend a graduation ceremony at Taesungdong freedom village inside the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, near the border village of Panmunjom in Paju on January 11, 2019. (Photo by Lee Jin-man / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read LEE JIN-MAN/AFP/Getty Images)
Dec 17, 2018-Cheorwon, South Korea-In this photo provided by South Korea Defense Ministry, a South Korean and North Korean army soldier takes a inspect at the dismantled North Korean guard post inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in the central section of the inter-Korean border in Cheorwon, North Korea. South Korea's military on Monday confirmed the demolition and disablement of some North Korean border guard posts (GPs) through its onsite verification last week and days of subsequent analysis. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) announced the results of its Dec. 12 work to verify the demolition of 10 North Korean GPs in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the disarmament of another. The North's military also carried out the verification work on the same day. As part of a boarder accord to reduce military tensions and build trust, Seoul and Pyongyang initially agreed to demolish 11 GPs each. But they decided later to keep one of them apiece, albeit unarmed, in light of their historical value. (Photo by Seung-il Ryu/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
Dec 17, 2018-Cheorwon, South Korea-In this photo provided by South Korea Defense Ministry, a South Korean and North Korean army soldier takes a inspect at the dismantled North Korean guard post inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in the central section of the inter-Korean border in Cheorwon, North Korea. South Korea's military on Monday confirmed the demolition and disablement of some North Korean border guard posts (GPs) through its onsite verification last week and days of subsequent analysis. The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) announced the results of its Dec. 12 work to verify the demolition of 10 North Korean GPs in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) and the disarmament of another. The North's military also carried out the verification work on the same day. As part of a boarder accord to reduce military tensions and build trust, Seoul and Pyongyang initially agreed to demolish 11 GPs each. But they decided later to keep one of them apiece, albeit unarmed, in light of their historical value. (Photo by Seung-il Ryu/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
DMZ, SOUTH KOREA - DECEMBER 12: North Korean army soldiers head to inspect the dismantled South Korean guard post inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) during a mutual on-site verification of the withdrawal of guard posts along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on December 12, 2018 in DMZ, South Korea. The two Koreas have begun to destroy 20 guard posts along the heavily-fortified border between the two nations. The removal of the guard posts was decided during the 19 September Pyongyang summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (Photo by Jeon Heon-Kyun - Pool/Getty Images)
DMZ, SOUTH KOREA - DECEMBER 12: A South Korean army soldier stands guard at the South's dismantled guard post inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) during a mutual on-site verification of the withdrawal of guard posts along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on December 12, 2018 in DMZ, South Korea. The two Koreas have begun to destroy 20 guard posts along the heavily-fortified border between the two nations. The removal of the guard posts was decided during the 19 September Pyongyang summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (Photo by Jeon Heon-Kyun - Pool/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A South Korean army soldier (bottom C) shakes hands with a North Korean army soldier before crossing the Military Demarcation Line inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to inspect the dismantled North Korean guard post in the central section of the inter-Korean border in Cheorwon, South Korea on December 12, 2018. (Photo by Ahn Young-joon / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read AHN YOUNG-JOON/AFP/Getty Images)
DMZ, SOUTH KOREA - DECEMBER 12: South (wearing yellow head bands) and North Korean army soldiers head to inspect the dismantled North Korean guard post inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) on December 12, 2018 in DMZ, South Korea. The two Koreas have begun to destroy 20 guard posts along the heavily-fortified border between the two nations. The removal of the guard posts was decided during the 19 September Pyongyang summit between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. (Photo by Jeon Heon-Kyun - Pool/Getty Images)
In a photo taken on December 3, 2018 a South Korean soldier stands before a security fence at a guard post inside the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) near the Military Demarcation Line (MDL) separating North and South Korea, in South Korea's Cheorwon county. (Photo by Yelim LEE / AFP) (Photo credit should read YELIM LEE/AFP/Getty Images)
PAJU, SOUTH KOREA - NOVEMBER 30: South Korean soldiers stand guard next to the rails which leads to North Korea, inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas on November 30, 2018 in Paju, South Korea. (Photo by Kim Hong-Ji-Pool/Getty Images)
A South Korean train trainsporting dozens of South Korean officials runs on the rails which leads to North Korea, inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas in Paju, on November 30, 2018. - A train carrying South Korean engineers and officials crossed the border into North Korea for a joint survey with North Koreans for reconnecting the two Koreas with railways. (Photo by Chung Sung-Jun / POOL / AFP) (Photo credit should read CHUNG SUNG-JUN/AFP/Getty Images)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 18: (EDITORIAL USE ONLY, NO COMMERCIAL USE) A general view of the inside of the Workers' Party of Korea headquarters before Inter Korean summit on September 18, 2018 in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korean leader Kim and South Korean President Moon are meeting for the Inter-Korean summit talks after the 1945 division of the peninsula, and will discuss ways to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula. (Photo by Pyeongyang Press Corps/Pool/Getty Images)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 8, 2018: A photograph of North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un on display inside a cosmetics factory in Pyongyang. Alexander Demianchuk/TASS (Photo by Alexander Demianchuk\TASS via Getty Images)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 7, 2018: A photograph of North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un on display at the entrance to a cosmetics factory in Pyongyang. Alexander Demianchuk/TASS (Photo by Alexander Demianchuk\TASS via Getty Images)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 7, 2018: A photograph of North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un on display inside a cosmetics factory building in Pyongyang. Alexander Demianchuk/TASS (Photo by Alexander Demianchuk\TASS via Getty Images)
PYONGYANG, NORTH KOREA - SEPTEMBER 7, 2018: Portraits of former North Korean leaders Kim Il-sung (L) and Kim Jong-il on display inside a cosmetics factory building in Pyongyang. Alexander Demianchuk/TASS (Photo by Alexander Demianchuk\TASS via Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A conductor reads the latest edition of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper showing images of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meeting with US president Donald Trump during their summit in Singapore, at a news stand on a subway platform of the Pyongyang metro on June 13, 2018. - Donald Trump accepted an invitation from Kim Jong Un to visit North Korea during their historic summit, Pyongyang state media reported on June 13, as the US president said the world had jumped back from the brink of 'nuclear catastrophe'. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - A conductor stands on a platform at a subway station of the Pyongyang metro on June 13, 2018. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
TOPSHOT - Commuters read the latest edition of the Rodong Sinmun newspaper showing images of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un meeting with US president Donald Trump during their summit in Singapore, at a news stand on a subway platform of the Pyongyang metro on June 13, 2018. - Donald Trump accepted an invitation from Kim Jong Un to visit North Korea during their historic summit, Pyongyang state media reported on June 13, as the US president said the world had jumped back from the brink of 'nuclear catastrophe'. (Photo by Ed JONES / AFP) (Photo credit should read ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images)
Security personnel accompany a vehicle transporting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, South Korea, April 27, 2018. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
Dancing parties of youth and students take place to celebrate the Day of the Shining Star, the birth anniversary of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang, North Korea in this February 16, 2019 KCNA Photo. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
People and soldiers celebrate the Day of the Shining Star, the birth anniversary of former North Korean leader Kim Jong Il in Pyongyang, North Korea in this February 16, 2019 KCNA Photo. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
Delegates take part in a national meeting to celebrate the 77th birth anniversary of former North Korean leader Kim Jong-il at Pyongyang Indoor Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea in this February 15, 2019 KCNA Photo. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
North Korea marks the 71st anniversary of the state's founding of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this KCNA photo released February 8, 2019. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
People celebrate Lunar New Year in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this KCNA photo released February 6, 2019. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
Smoke rises from a chimney in downtown Pyongyang, North Korea, September 7, 2018. Picture taken September 7, 2018. REUTERS/Josh Smith
North Korean officials mark the state's sports day in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 14, 2019. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
North Korean officials mark the state's sports day in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 14, 2019. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seen during a visit in Beijing, China, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 10, 2019. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is seen during a visit in Beijing, China, in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on January 10, 2019. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
The statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are seen during a ceremony to mark the 7th death anniversary of late North Korean leader Kim Jong Il at Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang, North Korea December 17, 2018 released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in Pyongyang, in this undated photo released December 16, 2018 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
Portraits of late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il are seen on the facade of a government building in Pyongyang, North Korea, September 11, 2018. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui SEARCH "POY GLOBAL" FOR FOR THIS STORY. SEARCH "REUTERS POY" FOR ALL BEST OF 2018 PACKAGES. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY.
Premier of North Korea Pak Pong-ju inspects the Rakwon Machine Complex in this photo released December 13, 2018 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits fisheries in the Donghae area, North Korea, in this picture released by the Korean Central News Agency on December 1, 2018. KCNA via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
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South Korea's national security director, defence minister and spy chief held an emergency video conference and agreed the North Korean action were not helpful to efforts to establish a peace on the Korean Peninsula, according to South Korea's presidential Blue House.

Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said North Korea fired suspected ballistic missiles. He said the multiple North Korean projectiles traveled 100 to 200 kilometres (62 to 125 miles) but none landed inside Japan's exclusive economic zone.

"North Korea's latest action, on top of its repeated firings of ballistic missiles, is a serious threat to the peace and safety of Japan and ... a grave problem for the entire international society," Suga said.

In the past 10 days, North Korea has said leader Kim Jong Un supervised two rounds of live-fire artillery exercises in its first weapons tests since late November.

Kim had entered the new year with a vow to bolster his nuclear deterrent and not to be bound by a major weapons test moratorium amid a deadlock in a U.S.-led diplomacy aimed at convincing Kim to abandon his nuclear program in return for economic and political benefits.

South Korea and some European countries protested against the second North Korea drills on March 2, which they believe involved ballistic missile launches in a violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

North Korea insists it has the right to conduct military drills in the face of U.S. and South Korean forces on its doorstep.

The U.N. Security Council didn't issue any statement after discussing North Korea's March 2 drills, but five European members condemned what they called "provocative actions." Belgium, Estonia, France, Germany and the United Kingdom said afterward that the tests undermine regional and international peace, security and stability.

The North's Foreign Ministry on Saturday accused the five European countries of "repeating an absurd argument of condemnation and violation resolutions of the U.N. whenever we conducted military drills."

"The reckless behaviour of these countries instigated by the U.S. will become a fuse that will trigger our yet another momentous reaction," a ministry statement said.

Last week, Kim Jong Un's younger sister levelled diatribes and crude insults against South Korea for criticising its earlier live-fire exercises, but her statement was followed by Kim sending a letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in expressing condolences over its coronavirus outbreak.

Some experts say North Korea may intend to catch South Korea off balance before seeking help in reviving its dilapidated economy, since the U.S. has said sanctions on North Korea will stay in place unless it takes significant steps toward denuclearisation.

"The coronavirus is likely exceeding North Korea's public health capacity, so Kim Jong Un is playing a two-level game. At the domestic level, his regime claims to protect the people with drastic quarantine measures and military exercises against external threats," said Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor at Seoul's Ewha Woman's University. "Pyongyang may be seeking international assistance, but remains obsessed with not appearing in an inferior position to Seoul."

Nuclear talks between Pyongyang and Washington remain stalled since the breakdown of a second summit between Kim and President Donald Trump in Vietnam in early 2019.

Subsequent talks between the two countries failed to produce much progress amid disputes over how much sanctions relief should be given in return for a limited step to move away from nuclear weapons by North Korea.

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