North Korea fires three ballistic missiles after unprecedented year of tests

Three ballistic missiles fired at 8 a.m. from North Hwanghae province.
Pyongyang hoped to test a nuclear weapon for the seventh time.
The missiles covered a range of around 350 km: Japan Ministry of Defense.

SEOUL: North Korea fired three ballistic missiles into the sea east of the Korean peninsula on Saturday, the South Korean military said.

The launches were the latest in an unprecedented number of missile tests conducted by North Korea this year. Pyongyang is pushing ahead with weapons development amid speculation it could test a nuclear weapon for the seventh time.

The three short-range ballistic missiles were fired at around 08:00 a.m. local time (2300 GMT) from North Hwanghae province, south of the capital Pyongyang, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Japan’s Defense Ministry said the three flew at an altitude of around 100 km (62 miles) and covered a range of around 350 km (217 miles). The South Korean military also said that the missiles flew about 350 km.

“North Korea’s launch of ballistic missiles is a serious provocation that undermines peace and stability on the Korean peninsula as well as in the international community,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said, condemning it as a clear violation of the UN Security Council resolution. and urging him to stop immediately.

The US Indo-Pacific Command said the latest launches do not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory or Washington allies. Still, they highlighted the destabilizing impact of North Korea’s weapons program.

The launches came a day after the South Korean Defense Ministry announced it had successfully conducted a test flight of a solid-propellant space launch vehicle.

On Monday, five North Korean drones crossed into South Korea, prompting the South Korean military to dispatch fighter jets and attack helicopters to try to shoot them down, in the first such intrusion since 2017.

Relations between North Korea and US ally South Korea have grown more tense since South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s conservative government took power in May, pledging a tougher stance toward the North. .

Not counting the launches on Saturday, North Korea has fired about 70 ballistic missiles this year, the Yonhap news agency said, including about eight intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).

North Korean state media KCNA had yet to mention the launches, but said on Saturday that leader Kim Jong Un had chaired a party meeting on Friday to decide on policy and strategy for 2023.

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