North Korea’s launch of four ballistic missiles Monday was a part of drills targeting U.S. military bases in Japan, state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported Tuesday. The country fired the missiles off its east coast in an apparent retaliation to the joint military drills by the U.S. and South Korea that began last week.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised the drills that were carried out by Hwasong artillery units of Strategic Force of the Korean People's Army (KPA), according to KCNA. The missiles flew about 620 miles before splashing into the Sea of Japan and, on Monday, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said three missiles fell into Japan's exclusive economic zone.
The KCNA report stated the North’s artillery units were “tasked to strike the bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces in Japan in contingency.” Quoting Kim, the news agency said the simultaneous missile launches were “so accurate that they look like acrobatic flying corps in formation.”
The leader also ordered the KPA Strategic Force to be on high alert in case any war breaks out and “get fully ready to promptly move, take positions and strike so that it can open fire to annihilate the enemies once the Party Central Committee issues an order.”
On Monday, North Korea, which is barred from testing any ballistic missile technology under U.N. resolutions, launched the missiles from the Dongchang-ri long-range missile site in North Pyongan Province. The move triggered condemnation from the U.S., South Korea, Japan and Russia.
Seoul’s military said the missiles appeared to be developed with technology similar to that of submarine-launched ballistic missiles, according to South Korea's Yonhap News Agency.
Last Thursday, Pyongyang threatened to carry out “merciless military counter-actions” if Washington and Seoul provoked the reclusive country. The comments came after last Wednesday's annual U.S.-South Korea joint military drills in the Korean Peninsula to counter threats from North Korea. The isolated nation had carried out a missile test last month, the first since Donald Trump assumed office as the U.S. president.