North Korea fires 2 short-range ballistic missiles into the sea

Seoul, Jul 19 (EFE).- North Korea on Wednesday fired two short-range ballistic missiles that landed in the Sea of Japan, an action apparently taken in response to the arrival in South Korea of a nuclear-capable US Navy submarine.

The launches also came just hours after the first meeting of the so-called Nuclear Consultative Group (NCG) between Seoul and Washington.

The South Korean army’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that it detected the two missiles launched “toward the East Sea (as North Korea and South Korea refer to the Sea of Japan) from the Sunan area (near Pyongyang) between 3.30 am and 3.46 am Wednesday.”

The missiles each traveled around 550 kilometers (340 miles) before landing in waters to the east of the Korean Peninsula, the statement added.

After the NCG meeting, the US National Security Council’s coordinator for the Indo-Pacific, Kurt Campbell, announced the arrival in Busan (350 km southeast of Seoul) of the USS Kentucky submarine.

That ballistic missile submarine is the first of its kind to make a port call in South Korea in 40 years.

Both the establishment of the NCG and the submarine’s visit were agreed in April with the signing of the Washington Declaration between US President Joe Biden and South Korean counterpart Yoon Suk-yeol.

Biden said following that meeting at the White House that the two countries would have even closer military and security cooperation in the future.

“We’re not going to be stationing nuclear weapons on the peninsula, but we will have visits to ports, visits of nuclear submarines and things like that,” he added.

In a statement following the inaugural meeting of the NCG, the White House said Tuesday that will be an “enduring mechanism for strengthening the U.S.-ROK (South Korea) Alliance and enhancing our combined deterrence and response posture.”

Earlier this week, North Korea’s Ministry of Defense denounced the US plans for the nuclear-capable submarine’s visit to South Korea.

Shortly afterward, Kim Yo-jong, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s sister, accused the US of engaging in air espionage activities.

Then, on July 12 Pyongyang launched a second test-flight of its most sophisticated intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-18.

Wednesday’s missile launch occurred a day after the Pentagon confirmed that a US soldier had been detained by North Korean authorities after crossing the border from South Korea.

“One of our service members who was on a tour willfully and without authorization crossed the military demarcation line,” US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin told a press conference in Washington DC. “We believe that he is in (North Korean) custody.”

American media, citing US military officials, said Pvt. Travis T. King had been arrested on assault charges, was recently released from a South Korean prison and faced additional disciplinary action in the US. EFE


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