SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea test-fired two medium-range ballistic missiles on Wednesday, South Korea and the U.S. said, a challenge to a rare three-way summit of its rivals Seoul, Tokyo and Washington that focused on the North's security threat.
The launch of the Rodong missiles, for the first time since 2009, violates U.N. Security Council resolutions and marks an escalation from a series of shorter-range rocket launches the North has staged in recent weeks to protest ongoing annual military drills by the U.S. and South Korea that Pyongyang claims are invasion preparation.
The missiles flew about 400 miles off North Korea's east coast early Wednesday morning, South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said. It wasn't immediately clear where the missiles splashed down. Kim said the missiles were likely fired from a mobile launcher.
The North's arsenal of an estimated 300 Rodong missiles could in theory be fitted with nuclear warheads — once Pyongyang masters the ability to miniaturize atomic bombs — and, with a range of up to 800 miles, could reach Tokyo and key U.S. military bases in Japan.
The U.S. State Department later confirmed the launch of Rodong missiles and said North Korea apparently didn't issue any maritime warning.