North Korea ends 2022 by firing three ballistic missiles

(Update 1: Adds details, changes headline, minor edits)

Seoul, Dec 31 (EFE).- North Korea on Saturday launched three short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, the South Korean military reported, on the final day of a year in which it has carried out a record number of weapons tests.

“Our military captured three short-range ballistic missiles launched by North Korea into the East Sea [Sea of Japan] from the area of Junghwa County, North Hwanghae Province, from around 08:00 [23:00 GMT] today (Sat. December 31),” Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.

The missiles fell into the Sea of Japan after traveling about 350 kilometers and reaching a maximum altitude of about 100 kilometers, according to estimates by the South Korea and Japan, which initially reported the launch of a single ballistic-type projectile.

South Korean and US intelligence authorities are conducting a detailed analysis of the missile’s specifications.

The JCS harshly condemned the tests, calling them an act of “significant provocation” and a “clear” violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Saturday’s tests come as tension is at its highest on the Korean Peninsula and just a day after Seoul conducted a test for a future solid-fuel space rocket with which it wants to speed up the deployment of military reconnaissance satellites.

This year North Korea, immersed in a five-year weapons modernization plan and still completely closed to the outside world for pandemic reasons, has carried out nearly 50 launches of various types of projectiles.

Faced with the regime’s refusal to resume diplomacy and its insistence on strengthening its arsenal, Seoul and Washington resumed their large-scale military maneuvers and have responded to Pyongyang’s tests with the rotating deployment of US strategic assets on the peninsula, which has brought about and accelerated an action-reaction cycle that experts view with concern.

This latest launch also comes as North Korea’s sole party holds an important plenary meeting in Pyongyang to set its 2023 agenda and the regime is expected to publish leader Kim Jong-un’s closing speech on Jan. 1, which could include messages for the US or South Korea. EFE asb/tw

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