North Korea fires three ballistic missiles, Seoul says

North Korea fires three ballistic missiles, Seoul says


North Korea fired one long-range and two short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday, Seoul’s military said, with one warning residents of a South Korean island and people in parts of northern Japan to seek shelter.

Seoul’s military said it had “detected a long-range ballistic missile believed to have been launched into the Baltic Sea in the Sunan area of ??Pyongyang around 07:40 a.m. (2240 ??GMT),” it said, referring on the corpse of water also known as the Sea of ??Japan.

Shortly thereafter, it spotted what “believed to be two short-range ballistic missiles fired from Kaechon in South Pyongan province at around 08:39,” it added.

The South Korean military “is maintaining a full readiness posture while working closely with the US and increasing surveillance and vigilance,” it added.

The launches come a day after Pyongyang fired more than 20 missiles, including one that landed near South Korea’s territorial waters.

Pyongyang’s multiple missile launches come as Seoul and Washington hold their largest-ever joint air exercises involving hundreds of warplanes from both sides.

Local media reported that air raid sirens had gone off on South Korea’s eastern island of Ulleungdo – where residents were warned on Wednesday to seek shelter after one of Pyongyang’s short-range ballistic missiles crossed the de facto maritime border.

Tokyo also confirmed the launches on Thursday, with the Japanese government issuing a special warning to residents of the northern regions just before 8 a.m. (2300 GMT), urging them to stay indoors or seek shelter.

Tokyo initially said the missile flew over Japan, prompting the issuance of a “J-Alert,” but Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada later said, “the missile did not cross the Japanese archipelago but disappeared over the Sea of ??Japan.”

– “Very worrying” –

Given that the missile “was accompanied by evacuation warnings, we strongly recommend using IRBMs or potential ICBMs for the full-range launch,” Chad O’Carroll of Seoul-based specialty site NK News said on Twitter.

“The latter could be of great concern to some if it succeeds over a significant distance.”

Washington and Seoul have repeatedly warned that Kim’s recent missile launches could culminate in another nuclear test – the seventh in Pyongyang.

The flash of launches suggests that “possibly tactical nuclear weapons testing will be next. Possibly very soon,” added O’Carroll.

“These are North Korea’s pre-celebrations ahead of the upcoming nuclear test,” Ahn Chan-il, a North Korean studies scholar, told AFP.

“They also act like a series of practical tests for their tactical nuclear use.”

On October 4, North Korea fired a missile over Japan, which also triggered evacuation warnings. Pyongyang later claimed it was a “novel medium-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile”.

It was the first time North Korea had fired a missile over Japan since 2017.

Pyongyang later claimed the launch and a blizzard of other tests around the same time were “tactical nuclear exercises” simulating showering South Korea with nuclear-tipped missiles.

– Flash of starts –

Pyongyang has called the ongoing US-South Korean air exercise Vigilant Storm an “aggressive and provocative anti-DPRK military exercise” and warned that Seoul and Washington will “pay the most terrible price in history” if it continues.

A short-range ballistic missile crossed the northern border line, the de facto maritime border, on Wednesday, prompting a rare warning to residents of Ulleungdo Island to seek shelter in bunkers.

President Yoon Suk-yeol said it was “effectively a territorial invasion”.

South Korea also closed some air routes over the East Sea, advising local airlines to take a detour to “ensure the safety of passengers on routes to the United States and Japan.”

Pyongyang also fired artillery barrage into a maritime “buffer zone” that experts said was part of an “aggressive and menacing” response to joint US-South Korea exercises.

For its part, South Korea said it fired three air-to-surface missiles into the sea near the two countries’ maritime border.

North Korea revised its laws allowing pre-emptive nuclear strikes in September, and leader Kim declared the country an “irreversible” nuclear power – effectively ending negotiations on its banned weapons programs.

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