North Korea fired six short-range projectiles into the sea Thursday in a show of defiance just hours after the United Nations adopted the toughest sanctions to date on Pyongyang over its fourth nuclear test and rocket launch.
Limited displays of military firepower have become a routine response by North Korea to international pressure over anything from its nuclear weapons program to its human rights record.
South Korea’s defence ministry said the six projectiles — either rockets or guided missiles — fell into the sea around 100-150 kilometres (60-90 miles) off the North’s eastern coast.
China’s foreign ministry responded by urging all parties to refrain from any actions that might see tensions escalate still further.
The launches came after the UN Security Council unanimously passed a resolution late Wednesday imposing new sanctions after seven weeks of arduous negotiations between the United States and China, Pyongyang’s sole major ally.
All eyes are now on China and Russia to see if they fully enact the sweeping measures.
North Korea offered no immediate statement on the sanctions, which break new ground, requiring all countries to inspect cargo destined for and coming from the North, in all airports and sea ports.
They also ban or restrict exports of coal, iron and iron ore and other minerals from North Korea, and prohibit the supply of aviation fuel including rocket fuel.
But analysts have pointed to several possible loopholes, including interpretations of what constitutes a proper cargo “inspection” and a provision that excludes mineral exports if their revenues are not deemed to be destined for military use.
North Korea earns about $1 billion per year in coal exports — a third of all export revenues — and about $200 million annually from iron ore sales, US Ambassador Samantha Power told the Security Council.