South Korea has said that North Korea fired a couple of ballistic missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, merely days after North Korea announced the launch of a long-range cruise missile.
In a statement, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the North fired “two unidentified ballistic missiles” from its central inland area into the sea off its east coast. Without detailing the missiles’ range, the statement said, “South Korean and US intelligence agencies are conducting detailed analysis.”
Elsewhere, Japan’s Coast Guard also confirmed the landing of an object outside its exclusive economic zone, arguing the projectile could be a ballistic missile fired from North Korea.
Japan’s Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, “The firings threaten the peace and safety of Japan and the region and are absolutely outrageous. The government of Japan is determined to further step up our vigilance and surveillance to be prepared for any contingencies.”
Following the launch of the missiles, both Korea and Tokyo said that Prime Minister Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in discussed the incident with their respective national security councils.
Earlier on Monday, North Korean state media announced the testing of a “strategic” long-range cruise missile that the missile flew about 1,500 kilometers. Experts say that the weapon may very well be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
Earlier today, South Korean and Chinese foreign ministers were holding talks in Seoul regarding the recent missile test and to resume the stalled denuclearisation dialogue between North Korea and the US.
North Korea remains under international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. If the latest projectile turns out to be a ballistic missile, it would be North Korea’s first such launch since March this year. The North has continued to breach the UN sanctions as it is shoring up its weapons program over the past few years after the breakdown in talks aimed at pulling apart its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
Earlier in May, US President Joe Biden’s government said that in the light of a complete overview of the US-North Korea policy, denuclearisation remains a priority but now at the cost of it would not seek any “grand bargain” with North Korean leader North Korea.