North Korea fired a pair of ballistic missiles from its central inland area into the sea off its east coast on Wednesday (Sept. 15), South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.
Japan’s coast guard previously expressed on its belief Pyongyang fired two ballistic missiles into the East Sea, possibly towards the empire’s exclusive economic zone, while Japanese prime minister Yoshihide Suga described the move as “outrageous.”
Both Japan and South Korea announced their respective national security councils will convene to discuss the incident later during the day.
The United States military’s Indo-Pacific Command stated on Wednesday that North Korea’s alleged launch of two ballistic missiles “highlights the destabilizing impact of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) illicit weapons program,” but added that it doesn’t pose an imminent threat to the interest of the US or its allies.
Ballistic missile tests contravene United Nations resolutions designed to curb the North’s nuclear activities. They can carry either nuclear or conventional warheads and are classed according to how far they can travel – the furthest of which being an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
The news comes just days after North Korea announced it has successfully performed the launch of its new long-range cruise missile. The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on Monday (Sept. 14) the cruise missiles, which had been under development for two years, successfully hit targets 1,500km (930 miles) away on Saturday (Sept.11) and Sunday (Sept. 12) before falling into North Korean territorial waters. Local state media described the missile as a “strategic weapon of great significance.” Pyongyang’s last known missile test was in March when it launched a new tactical short-range ballistic missile.
The UN Security Council does not forbid the test of cruise missiles. But it considers ballistic missiles to be more threatening because they can carry bigger and more powerful payloads, have a much longer range, and can travel faster.
The latest launch came as China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi visited Seoul on Wednesday for talks focusing on North Korea and other regional security issues. South Korean Foreign Minister Chung Eui-yong was also expected to ask China to play a more active role in persuading North Korea to return to the nuclear negotiations which have been stalled since 2019 when the US rejected Pyongyang’s demand for major sanctions relief in exchange for dismantling an ageing nuclear facility.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has so far rejected the Biden administration’s overtures for dialogue, demanding that Washington abandon its “hostile” policies first.
Hours after North Korea allegedly fired two ballistic missiles into the East Sea, the South Korean presidency announced that Seoul has successfully conducted an underwater test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile.
The system is “very meaningful in terms of securing deterrence against omnidirectional threats and it is expected to play a big role in self-reliant national defense and establishment of peace on the Korean Peninsula, going forward,” the statement read. The country is now the seventh nation in the world to obtain the technology.
With reporting by Korea Herald, AP, Reuters, AFP, BBC