NKorea fires short-range ballistic missile off western Japan

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South Korean authorities were questioning six North Koreans rescued on the weekend as they drifted in the sea off the east coast, and would send them home if they wanted to go, the South's unification ministry said on Monday.

North Korea has launched an unidentified projectile which appears to be a short-range ballistic missile, Yonhap news reports, citing South Korea's military.

The North has been stepping up efforts towards its ultimate goal - developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that can deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental US.

It comes as North Korean leader Kim Jong-un supervised the test of a new anti-aircraft weapon system and has ordered its mass production and deployment throughout the country. The latest launch follows the regime's testing of a KN-06 surface-to-air missile on Sunday, under the supervision of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

According to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, the missile was sacked at around 5:40 a.m.in central North Korea and traveled an estimated 500 km.

"They have been very clear in their rhetoric we don't have to wait until they have an intercont- intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear weapon on it to say that now it's manifested completely", Mattis said.

Last Sunday's test came one week after Pyongyang successfully tested another type of missile that it boasted was capable of reaching the USA armed with a nuclear warhead.

A spokesman for the U.S. National Security Council told CNN that President Trump had been briefed on the launch. The North has a strong arsenal of short- and medium-range missiles that target Japan and South Korea and US forces in the region, and it is working to flawless its longer-range missiles.

The regime has carried out two atomic tests and dozens of missile launches since the beginning of previous year, with multiple sets of United Nations sanctions failing to halt its weapons push.

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The latest, a short-range Scud, flew about 450 kilometres (280 miles) before landing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) between the Korean peninsula and Japan, the US Pacific Command said.

The launch did not pose a risk to North America, US Pacific Command said.

Trump has also warned that the United States could take unilateral action against North Korea in retaliation.

Following North Korea's test-firing of what analysts said was its longest-range rocket yet earlier this month, the UN Security Council vowed to push all countries to tighten sanctions against Pyongyang. "We will also cooperate with South Korea and other members of the global society and maintain high levels of caution in order to do utmost for the protection of our people's safety".

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who just returned from a G7 meeting in Italy, told reporters Monday that "North Korea's provocation by ignoring repeated warning from the worldwide society is absolutely unacceptable".

"It is a severe threat to the peace and stability of not only the Korean Peninsula, but also the global community", a statement from South Korea's Foreign Affairs Ministry said. China is the North's only major ally.

Suga, the Japanese cabinet secretary, told reporters that the missile fell about 300 kilometers (190 miles) north of the Oki islands in southwestern Japan and 500 kilometers (310 miles) west of Sado island in central Japan.

North Korea has fired 12 missiles during nine tests in 2017.

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