North Korea fires short-range projectiles, South Korea says

Story highlights

  • The South Korean military says North Korea launched the five projectiles Monday
  • The launch comes just days after Pyongyang fired ballistic missiles
  • The U.S. and South Korean militaries are conducting annual joint exercises in the region

(CNN)North Korea fired five short-range projectiles from the country's east coast Monday, South Korean military heads said, the latest in a series of actions by Pyongyang to raise tensions on the divided peninsula in recent months.

The projectiles were fired from an area south of Hamhung city, South Hamgyong province, on the country's east coast, between 3:19 and 4:05 p.m. South Korean time (2:19 to 3:05 a.m. ET) Monday, according to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, or JCS.
    The JCS had previously reported the launch of four projectiles.
    The projectiles flew about 200 kilometers (124 miles) toward the sea to the east of the Korean Peninsula, the JCS said in a statement.
    The South Korean military is closely monitoring the situation and is maintaining full readiness, the statement added.

    Tensions heightening

    The launches are just the latest provocative act by Pyongyang since it conducted a fourth nuclear test in January.
    Since early February, the reclusive regime has fired 15 various projectiles on four occasions.
    And earlier this month, North Korea claimed that it had miniaturized nuclear warheads to fit on ballistic missiles, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency.
    It is the second time in less than a week that the North has launched projectiles, following the launch of two ballistic missiles near Sukchon county, South Pyongan province, on the country's west coast Friday.
    The launches come as the U.S. and South Korean militaries conduct annual joint exercises, which habitually draw criticism and threats from the North.
    This year's drills are the largest ever, with 300,000 South Korean troops and at least 17,000 from the United States.
    North Korea has warned that it would make a "pre-emptive and offensive nuclear strike" in response to the joint exercises.
    It is not unusual for North Korea to launch projectiles during the U.S.-South Korean military drills. In 2014 alone, North Korea fired 90 ballistic missiles and rockets over eight occasions, the South Korean Defense Ministry said in 2015.