North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Friday, the South’s military said, the latest in a blitz of launches that Washington and Seoul have warned could culminate in Kim Jong Un conducting another nuclear test.
The launch comes as South Korea and the US conclude 12 days of amphibious naval joint military drills, and just ahead of the Monday start of major combined air drills that will involve more than 200 US and South Korean fighter jets.
Such drills infuriate Pyongyang, which sees them as rehearsals for invasion and has repeatedly justified its blitz of missile launches as necessary “countermeasures” to what it deems US aggression.
South Korea’s military said it had “detected two ballistic missiles fired from the Tongchon area in Gangwon between 1159 (0259 GMT) and 1218,” it said, referring to a province on North Korea’s east coast.
“Our military has increased monitoring and surveillance and is maintaining a full readiness posture in close coordination with the US,” Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
With talks long-stalled, tensions on the peninsula are at their highest point in years, with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last month declaring his country an “irreversible” nuclear power, effectively ending negotiations over his banned weapons programmes.
Officials in Washington and Seoul have been warning for months that Kim is ready to conduct another nuclear test, which would be the country’s seventh — and the first since 2017.