North Korea fired four ballistic missiles off the coast of Japan on Monday in an apparent protest against ongoing U.S.-South Korean military drills. North Korea state media reported that its military was practicing a strike on U.S. bases. The state-run Korean Central News Agency reported that Kim Jong Un himself observed the launch.
The U.S. has responded to this aggression, setting up its advanced anti-missile defense system in South Korea, Reuters reported on Tuesday.
Three of North Korea's four medium-range ballistic missiles traveled about 600 miles and reached an altitude of 160 miles after being launched from the Dongchang-ri long-range missile site, South Korean military officials said. The missiles landed within Japan's exclusive economic zone off the Oga Peninsula in Akita prefecture.
"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," U.S. Pacific Commander Admiral Harry Harris said in a statement, referring to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-missile system.
President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe discussed North Korea's actions in a Tuesday phone call. Trump also spoke with Hwang Kyo-ahn, South Korea's acting president, about his neighbor's missile launches.
The decision to deploy the U.S. military's anti-missile defense system could worsen the fragile relationship between South Korea and China, Reuters reported.
Trump has taken a wait-and-see approach with North Korea amid reports that it was close to attaching a nuclear warhead to a long-distance missile aimed at the U.S. In early February North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the sea, the first attempt to test Trump's policy with the isolated country.