North Korea fires suspected short-range ballistic missiles

(Update 1: Adds details from JCS, statements from Japan PM and USIPC, adds to dateline, minor edits)

Seoul/Tokyo, Jan 27 (EFE).- North Korea fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Thursday, the South Korean military reported.

The launches occurred at 8 am and 8.05 am local time (23:00/23:05 GMT Wednesday) from around the east coast city of Hamhung, and they flew about 190 kilometers at a top altitude of 20km, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

The JCS added that Seoul and Washington continue to analyze the North’s movements and the launches, which took place after the regime fired two suspected cruise missiles on Tuesday.

It is presumed that Pyonyang was targeting an uninhabited island off the country’s east coast, an unnamed military official cited by Yonhap news agency said.

Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida noted this was North Korea’s sixth test of the year and that it was “very regrettable,” adding that ballistic missiles are in breach of United Nations Security Council resolutions. He said Tokyo has lodged protests with Pyongyang.

There has not been any reports so far of damage to ships or aircraft, Kishida said.

The missiles did not fall into the waters of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, according to public broadcaster NHK citing a Japanese government official, so Tokyo does not consider the test to have an immediate impact on its security.

The US Indo-Pacific Command said it was aware “aware of the ballistic missile launches and are consulting closely with our allies and partners.”

“While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies, the recent series of DPRK ballistic missile tests highlight the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons program,” it said, using an acronym for North Korea’s official name.

The sixth round of North Korean missile launches this month comes amid a deadlock in denuclearization talks between Pyongyang and Washington.

North Korea said on the 20th it is considering “restarting all temporarily-suspended activities,” which could include nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests. EFE


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