North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile during a new salvo of launches, the South Korean military says, with Washington urging all nations to enforce sanctions on Pyongyang.

Pyongyang fired more than 20 missiles on Wednesday, including one that landed near South Korea's territorial waters.
Pyongyang fired more than 20 missiles on Wednesday, including one that landed near South Korea's territorial waters. (AP)

North Korea has fired at least six missiles into the sea, including an intercontinental ballistic missile that triggered evacuation warnings and halted trains in northern Japan, adding to a recent barrage of weapons tests that has escalated tensions in the region.

The ICBM test was followed by the launches of two short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday, drawing swift condemnation by North Korea’s neighbours and the United States.

South Korea and the US said they would extend their ongoing joint air drills, the largest-ever such exercises - a move Pyongyang immediately branded "an irrevocable and awful mistake".

People in parts of northern Japan were ordered to seek shelter during the North's latest launches, which included five short-range missiles and followed a blitz of projectiles fired on Wednesday.

The largest of Thursday's launches, however, "is presumed to have ended in failure", the South Korean military said.

The United States condemned the ICBM launch.

"This action underscores the need for all countries to fully implement DPRK-related UN Security Council resolutions," US State Department spokesman Ned Price said, using the North's official name of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

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'Dangerous and false choice'

Pyongyang fired more than 20 missiles on Wednesday, including one that landed near South Korea's territorial waters, triggering an air raid siren warning on Ulleungdo, an island about 130 kilometres off the country's east coast.

America "and South Korea will get to know what an irrevocable and awful mistake they made", Pak Jong Chon, secretary of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, said in a statement carried by news agency KCNA.

Tokyo confirmed Thursday's launches, with the Japanese government issuing a special warning to residents of northern regions to stay indoors or seek shelter.

Tokyo initially said the ICBM had flown over Japan, prompting a "J-Alert" to be issued, but Defence Minister Yasukazu Hamada later said, "the missile did not cross the Japanese archipelago, but disappeared over the Sea of Japan".

Washington and Seoul have repeatedly warned that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's recent missile launches could culminate in another nuclear test -- which would be Pyongyang's seventh.

Nuclear disarmament talks between Washington and Pyongyang have been stalled since 2019 because of disagreements over an easing of crippling US-led sanctions against North Korea in exchange for its denuclearisation steps.

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Source: TRTWorld and agencies