Japan protests after North Korea fires Scud-class ballistic missile

North Korea fired at least one short-range ballistic missile on Monday that landed in the sea off its east coast, the latest in a fast-paced series of missile tests defying world pressure and threats of more sanctions.

The missile was believed to be a Scud-class ballistic missile and flew about 450 km (280 miles), South Korean officials said. North Korea has a large stockpile of the short-range missiles, originally developed by the Soviet Union.

Monday's launch followed two successful tests of medium- to long-range missiles in as many weeks by the North, which has been conducting such tests at an unprecedented pace in an effort to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the mainland United States.

RELATED: The United States and South KoreaNavies

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South Korean naval destroyers Sejong the Great and Yang Manchun, the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer, USS Michael Murphy and USS Stethem, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain and the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson transit the western Pacific Ocean May 3, 2017. 

(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/Handout via REUTERS)

An F/A-18E Super Hornet launches from the U.S. Navy Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson during flight operations in the western Pacific Ocean May 2, 2017. Picture taken May 2, 2017. 

(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/Handout via REUTERS)

F/A-18 Hornets and Super Hornets fly over South Korean destroyers Sejong the Great and Yang Manchun and the U.S. Navy Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinsonas they transit the western Pacific Ocean May 3, 2017. 

(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/Handout via REUTERS)

An F/A-18E Super Hornet lands on the flight deck of the U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson as the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (L) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer transit the western Pacific Ocean May 3, 2017. 

(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/Handout via REUTERS)

South Korean naval destroyers Sejong the Great and Yang Manchun, the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer, USS Michael Murphy and USS Stethem, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain and the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson transit the western Pacific Ocean May 3, 2017.

(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/Handout via REUTERS)

Sailors conduct flight operations aboard the U.S. Navy Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson in the western Pacific Ocean May 2, 2017. Picture taken May 2, 2017.

(U.S. Navy/Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Sean M. Castellano/Handout via REUTERS)

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North Korea likely showing its determination to push ahead in the face of international pressure to rein in its missile program and "to pressure the (South Korean) government to change its policy on the North", South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman Roh Jae-cheon said.

It was the third ballistic missile test-launch since South Korea's liberal President Moon Jae-in took office on May 10 pledging to engage with the reclusive neighbor in dialogue.

Moon says sanctions alone have failed to resolve the growing threat from the North's advancing nuclear and missile program.

The missile reached an altitude of 120 km (75 miles), Roh said.

"The assessment is there was at least one missile but we are analyzing the number of missiles," he said.

North Korea, which has conducted dozens of missile tests and tested two nuclear bombs since the beginning of 2016 in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions, says the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

The White House said President Donald Trump had been briefed about the launch. The U.S. Pacific Command said it tracked what appeared to be a short-range ballistic missile for six minutes and assessed it did not pose a threat to North America.

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The scene of the intermediate-range ballistic missile Pukguksong-2's launch test in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) May 22, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
The long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) is launched during a test in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
Missiles are driven past the stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other high ranking officials during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of North Korea's founding father, Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang, April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Sue-Lin Wong
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspects the long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 (Mars-12) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on May 15, 2017. KCNA via REUTERS REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
People cheer as a missile is driven past the stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other high ranking officials during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country's founding father Kim Il Sung, in Pyongyang April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj
Military vehicles carry missiles with characters reading 'Pukkuksong' during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country's founding father, Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, April 15, 2017. REUTERS/Damir Sagolj TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a ballistic rocket launching drill of Hwasong artillery units of the Strategic Force of the KPA on the spot in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang March 7, 2017. KCNA/via REUTERSATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A fire drill of ballistic rockets by Hwasong artillery units of the KPA Strategic Force is pictured in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang September 6, 2016. KCNA/via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
FILE PHOTO - An underwater test-firing of a strategic submarine ballistic missile is seen in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on April 24, 2016. KCNA/File Photo via REUTERS. ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. SOUTH KOREA OUT.
A view of a firing contest among multiple launch rocket system (MLRS) batteries selected from large combined units of the KPA, in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang on December 21, 2016. KCNA/via Reuters ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS.
Ballistic rocket is seen launching during a drill by the Hwasong artillery units of the KPA Strategic Force in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on July 21, 2016. KCNA/via ReutersATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. EDITORIAL USE ONLY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THIS IMAGE. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS.Ã TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A test launch of ground-to-ground medium long-range ballistic rocket Hwasong-10 in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 23, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. NOT FOR USE BY REUTERS THIRD PARTY DISTRIBUTORS. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A new multiple launch rocket system is test fired in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang March 4, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA
A rocket is launched during a demonstration of a new large-caliber multiple rocket launching system attended by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (not pictured) at an unknown location, in this undated file photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 22, 2016. REUTERS/KCNA/Files ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY
A rocket is fired during a drill by anti-aircraft units of the Korean People's Army (KPA) in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang November 3, 2015. REUTERS/KCNA ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. REUTERS IS UNABLE TO INDEPENDENTLY VERIFY THE AUTHENTICITY, CONTENT, LOCATION OR DATE OF THIS IMAGE. FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS PICTURE IS DISTRIBUTED EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.
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The United States has said it was looking at discussing with China a new U.N. Security Council resolution and that Beijing, North Korea's main diplomatic ally and neighbor, realizes time was limited to rein in its weapons program through negotiations.

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, asked what a military conflict with North Korea might look like if diplomacy failed, warned on Sunday it would be "probably the worst kind of fighting in most people's lifetimes".

"The North Korean regime has hundreds of artillery cannons and rocket launchers within range of one of the most densely populated cities on Earth, which is the capital of South Korea," Mattis told CBS news program "Face the Nation".

"And in the event of war, they would bring danger to China and to Russia as well," he said.

TESTING NEW CAPABILITIES

China reiterated that U.N. Security Council resolutions had "clear rules" about North Korean missile activities and it urged Pyongyang not to contravene them.

"The situation on the Korean peninsula is complex and sensitive, and we hope all relevant sides maintain calm and exercise restraint, ease the tense situation as soon as possible and put the issue back onto the correct track of peaceful dialogue," China's foreign ministry said in a statement.

Russia condemned the launched and also called for restraint, "including towards military activity", from the partners it was working with, the RIA news agency quoted a deputy Russian foreign minister as saying.

Japan lodged a protest against the test missile, which appeared to have landed in its exclusive economic zone.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vowed action along with other nations to deter Pyongyang's repeated provocations.

SEE ALSO: US Confirms: North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile

"As we agreed at the recent G7, the issue of North Korea is a top priority for the international community," Abe told reporters in brief televised remarks. "Working with the United States, we will take specific action to deter North Korea."

Seoul's new liberal administration has said Pyongyang's repeated test launches were dashing hopes for peace.

South Korea's Moon swiftly called a meeting of the National Security Council, South Korea's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

North Korea last test-fired a ballistic missile on May 21 off its east coast and said on Sunday it had tested a new anti-aircraft weapon supervised by leader Kim Jong Un.

It has tested Scud-type, short-range missiles many times in the past, most recently in April, according to U.S. officials. However, experts say it may be trying to test new capabilities that may be fed into its efforts to build an ICBM.

"There are many possibilities ... It could have been a test for a different type of engine. Or to verify the credibility of the main engine for ICBM's first stage rocket," said Kim Dong-yub, a military expert at Kyungnam University's Far Eastern Studies department in Seoul.

Modified versions of the Scud have a range of up to 1,000 km (620 miles).

On Tuesday, the United States will test an existing missile defense system to try to intercept an ICBM, the first such test, officials said last week.

For graphic on nuclear North Korea, click: tmsnrt.rs/2n0gd92

(Additional reporting by Matt Spetalnick in WASHINGTON, Ben Blanchard in BEIJING, William Mallard in TOKYO and Soyoung Kim and Christine Kim in SEOUL, Denis Pinchuk in MOSCOW; Editing by Paul Tait, Robert Birsel)

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