North Korea fires two ballistic missiles at the Sea of ​​Japan | news

Missile launches come four days after North Korea and South Korea exchanged warning shots off the west coast.

North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles at the Sea of ​​Japan, also known as the East Sea, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and national media said.

“The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said they detected the launches from the Tongchon area in Kangwon Province,” South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported on Friday.

The South Korean military “is maintaining a full stand-by posture in close cooperation with the United States,” the JCS said in a text message sent to reporters, according to Yonhap.

The Tongchon launch site is about 60 km (37 miles) from the inner-Korean border. The area was apparently closer to South Korean territory than any other launch site North Korea has used so far this year.

Launched at 11:59 a.m. and 12:18 p.m. local time (01:59 GMT and 02:18 GMT) on Friday, the rockets flew an estimated 230 km (140 miles) at a maximum altitude of 24 km (15 miles) and reached top speeds of Mach 5, the JCS said.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency said the missiles were launched into the Sea of ​​Japan but landed outside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ), which stretches up to 200 nautical miles (about 370 km) from the country’s coast – beyond the borders its territorial waters.

“The North’s ballistic missile launches this time are acts of significant provocation that undermine peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in the international community,” the JCS said in a statement, according to Yonhap.

Friday’s launch also comes on the final day of South Korea’s annual 12-day “Hoguk” military exercise, which this year also involved an unspecified number of American troops.

Next week, the armed forces of South Korea and the United States are also preparing to hold large-scale combined aerial exercises dubbed “Vigilant Storm,” Yonhap reported.

Such military drills infuriate Pyongyang, which sees them as rehearsals for an invasion and justifies its missile strikes as necessary “countermeasures.”

Seoul and Washington have repeatedly warned that Pyongyang may be on the verge of testing a nuclear bomb for the first time since 2017, following a spate of missile launches.

Leader Kim Jong Un has made the development of tactical nuclear weapons – smaller, battlefield-ready weapons – a priority, and Seoul recently warned North Korea could be preparing to conduct successive nuclear tests as part of the effort.

On Tuesday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said North Korea was ready to conduct another nuclear test, which would be its seventh.

“It looks like they have already completed preparations for a seventh nuclear test,” he told parliament on Tuesday during a budget speech.

On Wednesday, the US, South Korea and Japan warned that an “unprecedented” response would be warranted if North Korea tests a nuclear weapon.

The US Indo-Pacific Command issued a brief statement saying the North’s missile launch was “unlawful” and US commitment to defending South Korea and Japan was “iron-clad”.


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