DPRK fires two ballistic missiles after series of launches
The Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK) fired two ballistic missiles early Sunday in what Officials in South Korea says could signal that the north is closer than ever to resuming nuclear testing for the first time since 2017, with preparations observed at its test site for months.
The latest launch by Pyongyang in recent days added to widespread alarm in Washington and its allies in Tokyo and Seoul.
Both missiles reached an altitude of 100 km (60 miles) and covered a range of 350 km, Japan’s state minister of defence, Toshiro Ino, told reporters. The first was fired at around 1:47 a.m. local time (1647 GMT) and the second one some six minutes later.
Both fell outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, and authorities were looking into what kind of missiles were launched, including the possibility that they were submarine-launched ballistic missiles, he said.
The U.S. military said it was closely consulting with allies and partners following the launches, which it said highlighted the “destabilizing impact” of the North Korean nuclear arms and ballistic missile programs.
“The U.S. commitments to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remain ironclad,” the Hawaii-based U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.
The latest missile launches by North Korea are a “serious provocation” that harms peace, the South Korean military said on Sunday.
North Korea, which has pursued missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. sanctions, said on Saturday its missile tests were for self-defence against direct U.S. military threats and had not harmed the safety of neighbouring countries and regions.
“Our missile tests are a normal, planned self-defence measure to protect our country’s security and regional peace from direct U.S. military threats,” said state media KCNA, citing an aviation administration spokesperson.
The United States and South Korea held joint maritime exercises on Friday, a day after Seoul scrambled fighter jets in reaction to an apparent North Korean bombing drill.
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