Breaking: North Korea carries out ballistic missile launch: US, Japan
North Korea has reportedly fired two missiles into the Sea of Japan, in what is the first signal to the new administration in the United States which is reviewing its policy towards Pyongyang.
The Japanese government claimed on Thursday the missiles flew about 450 kilometers and landed outside the Japanese exclusive economic zone.
“The first launch in just less than a year represents a threat to peace and stability in Japan and the region and violates UN resolutions,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga claimed, while noting that the projectiles were “banned ballistic missiles.”
The reportedly missile launch coincided with the start of the Olympic torch relay in Japan, which is due to host its delayed and pandemic-affected summer Games in less than four months.
Thursday’s missile launch, which was also confirmed by South Korea and the United States, came just days after Pyongyang test-fired several suspected cruise missiles following US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s visit to Japan and South Korea to discuss their alliance and security issues in the region.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) earlier reported at least two “unidentified projectiles” were fired into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan from North Korea’s South Hamgyong Province on the east coast.
US officials also claimed that North Korea carried out a new missile launch, without offering details on the number or kind of projectile detected.
In a statement, the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) said the missile launches highlighted the threat posed by North Korea to its neighbors.
The latest launches are seen as a new challenge to Biden’s efforts to engage with the North. However, Pyongyang has rebuffed any attempt by Washington to establish contact as long as it pursues a “hostile policy.”
North Korea maintains that its nuclear and missile capabilities are intended to defend the country against potential aggression characterized by regular joint war games by Seoul and Washington on the Korean Peninsula.
The two Koreas are still technically at war as a 1953 war they fought ended with a truce and not a peace treaty.
There are close to 30,000 US troops stationed in South Korea.