N Korea fires two ballistic missiles off east coast, S Korea says | News

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

North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and national media said.

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

The South Korean military is “maintaining a posture of full readiness 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 60km (37 miles) from the Korean border. The area is apparently closer to South Korean territory than any other launch site North Korea has used so far this year.

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The missiles, launched at 11:59am and 12:18pm local time on Friday (01:59 GMT and 02:18 GMT), flew an estimated 230km (140 miles) at a maximum altitude of 24km (15 miles) and reached speeds maximum Mach 5, the JCS said.

“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 commanders 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 exercises, which also included an unspecified number of American troops this year.

Next week, the forces of South Korea and the United States are also preparing to stage large combined air drills, called “Vigilant Storm”, Yonhap reported.

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

Seoul and Washington have repeatedly warned that Pyongyang could be close to testing an atomic bomb for the first time since 2017, after a flurry of ballistic missile launches.

Leader Kim Jong Un has made the development of tactical nukes – smaller, battlefield-ready weapons – a priority and Seoul recently warned that North Korea could be preparing to carry out multiple nuclear tests in a row as part of this campaign .

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

“It appears that 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 tested a nuclear weapon.

The US Indo-Pacific Command said in a brief statement that the North’s missile launch was “illegal” and that the US commitment to defend South Korea and Japan was “ironclad”.


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