Posted BY: RM | NwoReport

SEOUL, Feb 18 (Reuters) – North Korea launched a long-range ballistic missile into the sea off Japan’s west coast on Saturday, after Pyongyang warned of a strong response to upcoming U.S.-South Korea military drills.

Japanese authorities said it splashed down in waters inside Japan’s exclusive economic zone more than an hour after it was launched, suggesting the weapon was one of the North’s largest missiles. Tokyo said there were no immediate reports of damage to ships or airplanes.

North Korea’s first missile firing since Jan. 1 comes after Pyongyang on Friday threatened an “unprecedentedly persistent, strong” response as South Korea and the United States gear up for annual military exercises as part of efforts to fend off the North’s growing nuclear and missile threats.

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Saturday’s long-range missile was launched from the Sunan area near Pyongyang, South Korea’s military said. Sunan is the site of the Pyongyang International Airport, where North Korea has conducted most of its recent ICBM tests.

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