North Korea has fired two test missiles as its neighbour South Korea begins joint military drills with the US.
The short-range ballistic missiles were reportedly launched off North Korea’s eastern coast and landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, according to the Japanese government, which is protesting against the incident.
The activity comes as the US aircraft carrier USS Nimitz and its accompanying ship group arrives in South Korean waters to carry out joint military exercises.
The drills are defensive, say both nations, and South Korea’s defence ministry added the carrier’s visit would form part of “strategic assets” to deter North Korea.
The Nimitz and its strike group are scheduled to dock at a South Korean naval base in the southeastern city of Busan on Tuesday.
On Monday, the nuclear powered carrier, a guided missile cruiser and two destroyers began engaging in air defence exercises and other drills with South Korean warships in waters near Jeju island.
South Korea’s air force said the five-day joint aerial drill will include live-fire demonstrations of air-to-air and air-to-ground weapons.
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, called the exercise a rehearsal for an invasion, a week after it simulated a nuclear counterattack against the US and South Korea.
It’s not the first time North Korean missiles have landed in the Sea of Japan with one being fired in mid-February.
Pyongyang has fired more than 20 ballistic and cruise missiles this year in what analysts believe is a bid to use its nuclear status to negotiate over sanctions.
Previously, North Korea said any move by the US to shoot down one of its test missiles would be considered a “declaration of war”.
Its most recent test was of an underwater attack drone that can generate a radioactive tsunami, according to the country’s state media.
The US carrier visit to South Korea is the first since September.