North Korea fires ballistic missiles anew

SEOUL, South Korea (AFP) — North Korea fired two ballistic missiles early Saturday, South Korea’s military said, the nuclear-armed country’s fourth such launch this week, as Seoul, Tokyo and Washington ramp up joint military drills to counter Pyongyang.

South Korea, Japan and the US staged anti- submarine drills Friday — the first in five years — just days after Washington and Seoul’s navies conducted large-scale exercises in waters off the peninsula.

US Vice President Kamala Harris was also in Seoul Thursday and toured the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone which divides the peninsula, on a trip that aimed to underscore the “ironclad” US commitment to South Korea’s defense against the North.

With talks long-stalled, Pyongyang has doubled down on its banned weapons programs, conducting a record-breaking blitz of tests this year and revising its laws to declare itself an “irreversible” nuclear power.

South Korea’s military said it had “detected two short-range missiles between 0645 and 0703 fired from the Sunan area in Pyongyang into the East Sea,” it said, referring to the body of water also known as the Sea of Japan.

“The military is maintaining the utmost readiness in close coordination with the United States,” Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff added in a statement.

Japan also confirmed the launch of two apparent ballistic missiles, saying they appeared to have landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zones.

Toshiro Ino, Japan’s vice defense minister, said the missiles “appear to have flown in irregular trajectories.”

“North Korea has been repeating missile launches at an unprecedented pace,” he said.

Experts say the irregular trajectories indicate the missiles are capable of maneuvering in flight, making them harder to track and intercept.

South Korean and US officials have also been warning for months that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is preparing to conduct another nuclear test.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *