North Korea launches ‘two ballistic missiles’ in second test in a week

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File: People watch a TV screen showing a news programme reporting about North Korea’s long-range cruise missiles tests (AP)
File: People watch a TV screen showing a news programme reporting about North Korea’s long-range cruise missiles tests (AP)

North Korea has fired two ballistic missiles in its second major weapons test in less than a week, officials from Japan and South Korea said on Wednesday.

The Japan Coast Guard said the projectiles seem to have landed outside the country’s exclusive economic zone, while South Korea said they landed off its east coast.

Japan’s prime minister Yoshihide Suga called the launch “outrageous” as he strongly condemned the act as a threat to the peace and security of the region. Mr Suga noted that the use of ballistic missiles was a direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the two ballistic missiles were launched from a site in central North Korea.

They flew towards the waters of the Korean Peninsula’s east coast, it added, saying that both South Korean and US intelligence agencies were analysing the launches for more details.

This is the second major test by North Korea is less than a week, after the country successfully launched what it called a “strategic” cruise missile. That launch was its first weapons test in six months.

The country described the cruise missile it tested as a “strategic weapon of great significance”, using a common military euphemism to suggest that it could be armed with nuclear warheads.

State run-media said the North Korean cruise missile travelled and hit targets at a distance of 1,500km (930 miles), a range allowing it to attack much of Japan, before dropping into the ocean.

Experts have warned that the recent tests by North Korea show the east Asian country is flexing its muscles and pushing to boost its weapons arsenal amid a stalemate in nuclear diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington.

The dialogue between North Korea and the United States hit a roadblock in 2019 after the North demanded major sanctions relief prior to dismantling its nuclear facilities. The demand was rejected by then-president Donald Trump’s administration.

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