North Korea launches 'barrage' of short-range projectiles into the Sea of Japan: Officials

PHOTO: North Koreas leader Kim Jong Un, Sept. 3, 2017. PlayKorea News Service via AP, FILE
WATCH North Korea launches short-range missiles into Sea of Japan

In a surprise move, North Korea launched a “barrage” of unidentified short-range projectiles into the Sea of Japan, American and South Korean military officials confirmed to ABC News on Friday evening.

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The projectiles were launched at about 9 a.m. local time on Saturday in North Korea from a peninsula on North Korea’s eastern shores, South Korean officials said.

On Saturday, North Korea issued a statement is launched "large-caliber long-range multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons." The statement said Kim Jong Un gave the order to launch the projectiles.

Meanwhile, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that "our military is strengthening its surveillance and border in preparation for further launch of North Korea."

"Korea and the United States are working closely together to maintain their ready preparedness," the statement continued.

PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches a launching drill of the medium-and-long range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 at an undisclosed location, in a photo released on Sept. 16, 2017 by the Korean Central News Agency. Korean Central News Agency via AFP/Getty Images, FILE
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watches a launching drill of the medium-and-long range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 at an undisclosed location, in a photo released on Sept. 16, 2017 by the Korean Central News Agency.

South Korean and U.S. officials said they were in the process of analyzing the missile launches.

"We are aware of North Korea’s actions tonight. We will continue to monitor as necessary," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said.

South Korean officials initially reported a single missile was fired, according to The Associated Press, but later issued a statement that said "several projectiles" had been launched and that they flew up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) before splashing into the sea toward the northeast.

If it's confirmed that the North fired banned ballistic missiles, it will be the first such launch since the North's November 2017 test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

PHOTO: President Donald Trump speaks at the South Korean National Assembly, Nov. 8, 2017, in Seoul, South Korea. Andrew Harnik/AP
President Donald Trump speaks at the South Korean National Assembly, Nov. 8, 2017, in Seoul, South Korea.

A senior Trump administration official told ABC News that National Security Adviser John Bolton has briefed President Donald Trump on the launch.

North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un and Trump met at a summit in February in Vietnam, but were unable to hammer out a deal to denuclearize North Korea. The summit was considered a disappointment following a much-friendlier meeting between the two leaders in Singapore in the summer of 2018.

Former State Department official Stephen Ganyard, an ABC News contributor, said that long-range missiles are the most concerning threats from North Korea.

“I don’t think we should get too excited about a short range test unless someone can tell us that it was a long range test that failed,” Ganyard said late Friday.

“A short range test is Kim demanding attention, not making a statement … and likely working on improving some tactical weapon he can sell for hard cash to his Iranian and Syrian clients.”

The missile launch was the first for North Korea since Nov. 28, 2017, however, that was a long-range missile.

ABC News' Martha Raddatz, Lana Zak, Cindy Smith, Elizabeth McLaughlin and Chris Francescani contributed to this report.

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