- NOBUHIRO KUBO
North Korea fired two ballistic missiles on Sunday morning, authorities in neighboring countries said.
The two missiles reached an altitude of 100 kilometers and covered a range of 350 kilometers, Japanese State Defense Minister Toshiro Ino told reporters. The first was fired around 01:47 local time and the second some six minutes later.
Both were outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone and authorities were examining the type of missiles launched, including the possibility that they were ballistic missiles launched by submarines, he said.
A North Korean flag flies over the propaganda village of Gijungdong in North Korea, in this photo taken near the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas, South Korea , July 19. PHOTO: Reuters/Kim Hong-Ji/Pool/File Photo.
The US military said it consulted closely with allies and partners after the launches, which it said highlighted the “destabilizing impact” of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.
Still, the U.S. deemed the latest launches posed no threat to U.S. personnel or U.S. allies.
“America’s commitments to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remain rock solid,” the Hawaii-based U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.
North Korea’s latest missile launches are a “serious provocation” that damages peace, the South Korean military said on Sunday.
They were launched from the Muncheon area on North Korea’s east coast, according to the South’s statement.
Officials in Seoul have said a spike in North Korea’s missile launches could signal it is closer than ever to resuming nuclear testing for the first time since 2017, with preparations seen at its site of trial for months.
On Tuesday, North Korea tested a ballistic missile further than ever before, sending it flying over Japan for the first time in five years and urging residents to take cover.
Ino said Tokyo would not tolerate North Korea’s repeated actions. The incident was the seventh such launch since September 25.
North Korea, which has continued missile and nuclear tests in defiance of UN sanctions, said on Saturday that its missile tests were for self-defense against direct US military threats and had not harmed the security of neighboring countries and regions.
“Our missile tests are a normal, planned self-defense measure to protect our country’s security and regional peace against direct US military threats,” state media KCNA said, citing a spokesperson for the agency. aviation administration.
The United States and South Korea held joint maritime exercises on Friday, a day after Seoul dispatched fighter jets in response to an apparent North Korean bombing exercise.
The United States also announced new sanctions on Friday in response to the latest North Korean missile launches.
– With DAVID DOLAN in Tokyo, Japan, and PHIL STEWART in Washington, DC