North Korea fired two ballistic missiles Friday, the South and Japan said, in what would be its third weapons test this month, despite a fresh volley of US sanctions.
The latest launches came just hours after Pyongyang warned of a “stronger and certain” reaction to the sanctions on five North Koreans linked to the country’s ballistic missile programme. Seoul’s joint chiefs of staff said it had detected two short-range ballistic missiles fired from North Pyongan province, adding they were “analysing the specifications”.
The weapons likely “fell outside” Japan’s territorial waters, Tokyo’s defence minister Nobuo Kishi told reporters, adding that the repeated tests indicated Pyongyang was “aiming to improve its launch technology”.
The Friday missiles came hours after Pyongyang accused the US of “provocation” over fresh sanctions imposed this week in response to a recent string of weapons tests.
The launches were at 2.41pm and 2.52pm, with the weapons flying a distance of 430km at an altitude of 36km, according to Seoul’s joint chiefs of staff.
Seoul’s National Security Council expressed “strong regret” over the recent missile launches, saying they “do not contribute to stability on the Korean Peninsula at this important juncture.”
Pyongyang debuted a hypersonic missile in September last year, and carried out what it called two successful tests this month, as it looks to add the weapon to its arsenal.
In response, the US imposed new sanctions on Pyongyang this week. On Friday, the US condemned North Korea’s latest ballistic missile launch.
“We remain committed to a diplomatic approach to the DPRK and call on them to engage in dialogue. Our commitment to the defence of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad”, a state department spokesperson said in an emailed statement.