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ConflictsSouth Korea

North Korea fires ballistic missile, South says

March 14, 2023

The launch toward the Sea of Japan comes two days after North Korea test-fired two strategic cruise missiles from a submarine, and as the US and South Korea conduct major military drills.

A South Korean news broadcast about Tuesday's missile launches
North Korea has ramped up missile tests over the weekendImage: Ahn Young-joon/AP Photo/picture alliance

North Korea test-launched two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast, South Korea's military said on Tuesday.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the missiles were fired at the "East Sea," referring to the body of water also known as the Sea of Japan. It said both missiles travelled around 620 kilometers (385 miles).

"Our military has strengthened surveillance and vigilance in preparation for additional launches, while maintaining a full readiness posture through close cooperation between South Korea and the United States," the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The South Korean military described the repeated missile launches as a "grave provocation," that threatened the peace and security in the region.

The report comes a day after North Korea said it fired two cruise missiles from a submarine as part of a test.

United States and Japan react

The US Indo-Pacific Command said the launches on Tuesday don't pose an immediate threat but do highlight the "destabilizing impact" of Pyongyang's weapons programs.

It said the American security commitment to South Korea and Japan remains "ironclad."

Meanwhile, Japan's Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said officials were still collecting more information, but that there were no immediate reports of damage in Japanese waters.

"We see there is a possibility that North Korea will step up further provocative actions, including missile launches and nuclear tests," Japanese chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said.

South Koreans prepared for North Korea's nukes

Freedom Shield drills begin

On Monday, the United States and South Korea kicked off 11 days of joint military exercises known as Freedom Shield 23. They are the largest drills held by the two nations in five years.

North Korea views these drills as rehearsal for invasion and said on Sunday that it will embark on "important practical" war deterrence measures.

Analysts have previously said that North Korea would likely use the drills as an excuse to carry out more missile launches and perhaps even a nuclear test.

"More missile launches with variations in style and scope should be expected, with even a nuclear test. More acts of intimidation from North Korea should not come as a surprise," Chun In-bum, a retired South Korean army general, told the AFP news agency.

zc/rt (AP, AFP, Reuters)