SEOUL, March 18 (Reuters) - North Korea fired a ballistic missile on Friday that flew about 800 km (500 miles) off its east coast into the sea, South Korea's military said, days after fresh U.S. sanctions were imposed on the isolated state.
South Korea's Yonhap news agency said the missile was likely a medium-range Rodong-missile.
The launch comes amid heightened tension on the Korean peninsula with the North remaining defiant in the face of the U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed earlier in the month in response to a nuclear test conducted in January.
The missile was launched from an area near the west coast north of the capital, Pyongyang, flying across the peninsular and into the sea off the east coast early Friday morning, the South's Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
It did not confirm the type of the missile. But 800 km was likely beyond the range of most short-range missiles in the North's arsenal.
North Korea last test fired medium-range missiles in 2014.
The North fired two short-range missiles last week into the sea off its east coast and its leader Kim Jong Un ordered more nuclear weapons test and missile tests to improve attack capability.
North Korea often fires missiles at periods of tension on the Korean peninsula or when it comes under pressure to curb its defiance and abandon its weapons program.
New U.S. sanctions on Pyongyang were issued on Wednesday aiming to expand U.S. blockade against the isolated state by blacklisting individuals and entities that deal with the North's economy.
North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test in Jan. 6 and launched a long-range rocket on Feb. 7 in defiance of existing U.N. Security Council resolutions.
On Wednesday, North Korea's supreme court sentenced a visiting American student to 15 years of hard labor for crimes against the state, a punishment Washington condemned as politically motivated.
(Reporting by Jack Kim and Ju-min Park; Editing by Lincoln Feast)