North Korea fires missile into Japanese waters a

North Korea has test-fired a missile into Japanese waters, the latest in a series of launches that have ratcheted up tensions over its nuclear weapons programme, according to Al Jazeera.

It was North Korea’s third ballistic missile test in as many weeks and the 12th this year – carried out in defiance of UN sanctions warnings and US threats of possible military action.

US military monitors said the short-range missile flew for six minutes, while Japan said it fell into the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) – waters extending 370km from its coast.

The launch comes in fresh defiance of tough talk from US President Donald Trump, who promised last week at the G7 summit that the “big problem” of North Korea “will be solved”.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe swiftly condemned the test and vowed concerted action along with its US ally.

“We will never tolerate North Korea’s continued provocations that ignore repeated warnings by the international community,” Abe told reporters.

“As agreed during the G7 summit, the North Korean problem is the international community’s top priority. In order to deter North Korea, we will take concrete action with the United States.”

North Korea has been stepping up efforts towards its ultimate goal – developing an intercontinental ballistic missile that can deliver a nuclear warhead to the continental US.

The isolated but nuclear-armed North Korea has test-fired a missile almost every week for the past three weeks.

The latest, a short-range Scud, flew about 450 kilometres before landing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea) between the Korean peninsula and Japan, the US Pacific Command said.

Monday’s test also marked the second time this year that a North Korean missile fell provocatively close to its neighbour Japan.