North Korea launches two medium-range ballistic missiles into Sea of Japan

(Update 2: Changes headline, lede with type of missiles fired, adds details)

Seoul, Dec 18 (EFE).- North Korea launched two medium-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Sunday, the South Korean military said.

The missiles were fired from the Tongchang-ri area, North Pyongan Province, where Pyongyang tested a high-thrust solid-fuel motor for a new type strategic weapon on Thursday.

The South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) initially reported that North Korea had launched two unidentified ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan (called the East Sea in the two Koreas).

The JCS said that the missiles were fired between 11:13 am and 12:05 pm, local news agency Yonhap reported.

They were fired at steep angles and flew about 500 kilometers (310 miles), the JCS added.

Japan’s defense ministry announced that the missiles reached an altitude of 550 kilometers and fell in waters outside its exclusive economic zone.

North Korea has conducted a record number of weapons’ tests this year.

On Thursday, it tested a high-thrust solid-fuel motor, a development that could lead to a new type of more efficient intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM).

The North Korean military conducted the test in the presence of Kim Jong-un at a satellite launch center that the international community believes Pyongyang uses to test long-range missiles.

The special envoys of the US, South Korea and Japan for North Korea held a telephone conversation after Sunday’s launches, in which they stressed the importance of a strong international response to Pyongyang’s provocations and pledged to strengthen trilateral cooperation, Yonhap said.

The new test comes days after the United Nations General Assembly approved a resolution calling for intensifying global efforts to improve the human rights situation in North Korea.

It also comes after Japan’s government on Friday approved new defense guidelines, which for the first time include the ability to attack enemy bases in the event of a threat to its national security, as well as a record increase in military spending.

The development of a solid fuel ICBM is one of the objectives of Kim’s regime for the North Korean weapons modernization plan approved in January 2021.

“This important test has provided a sure sci-tech guarantee for the development of another new type of strategic weapon system,” the state-run Korea Central News Agency reported.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are heightened amid a record number of weapons tests by the North Korean regime this year, large-scale joint military drills by South Korea and the United States, and the possibility that Pyongyang is ready to carry out its first nuclear test since 2017. EFE


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