North Korea fires two suspected ballistic missiles, Seoul says

North Korea fires two suspected ballistic missiles


The short-range missiles, fired from an airport in Pyongyang, are North Korea’s fourth weapons test this month.

North Korea has fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles into the sea in its fourth weapons test this month, South Korea’s military said, as Pyongyang continues a wave of missile launches that have triggered condemnation at the United Nations.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said on Monday that the North likely fired two ballistic missiles from the Sunan airport in the capital, Pyongyang, but did not immediately say how far they flew.

Japan’s government also reported the launch, condemning the launches as a threat to the region’s peace and security.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed his government to do its utmost to gather information about the launch and ensure the safety of vessels and aircraft.

Japan’s Coast Guard issued a warning for vessels traveling around Japanese waters to watch out for falling objects, but no immediate damage was reported.

The Coast Guard later said that the North Korean projectile is believed to have already landed but did not specify where.

North Korea has carried out a series of launches since the start of the year, announcing last week the successful test of a hypersonic weapon observed by leader Kim Jong Un.

On Friday, it also fired two missiles from a train.

Nuclear-armed Pyongyang is banned from testing ballistic weapons by the UN, and denuclearisation talks have been stalled since 2019 when a summit between Kim and former US President Donald Trump collapsed over the North Korean demands for sanctions relief.

The country’s foreign ministry on Friday chastised the US for imposing new sanctions as a result of the tests, accusing Washington of a “confrontational approach”.

The US is also urging the UN to take firmer action against North Korea over the latest round of weapons tests.

Some experts say Kim is returning to his old technique of using weapons launches and threats to extract concessions from the US.

The latest launches come as North Korea, more isolated than ever under self-imposed border closings aimed at preventing a COVID-19 pandemic, appeared to be preparing to open at least some trade across its land border with China.

Chinese brokers told Reuters news agency that they expect the resumption of regular trade with North Korea as soon as Monday, after a North Korean train pulled into a Chinese border town on Sunday in the first such crossing since anti-coronavirus border lockdowns began in 2020.

“This timing suggests Beijing is more than complicit with Pyongyang’s provocations; China is supporting North Korea economically and coordinating with it militarily,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha University in Seoul.

Last week China criticised the new US sanctions, but also called on all sides to act prudently and engage in dialogue to reduce tensions.

Beijing says it enforces existing international sanctions, but has joined with Russia to urge the UN Security Council to ease sanctions on North Korea.





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