North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles early Tuesday morning, which landed on the country’s east coast, officials said.
The latest missile launch comes as the United States and South Korea continue joint military exercises in the region, which Pyongyang has repeatedly condemned. Seoul called the action “a serious provocation” and said it destabilizes the region.
The missiles were launched from the southwestern coastal city of Jangyon and flew approximately 385 miles across North Korea before landing in the sea, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
Reported flight distances suggest the missiles could be aimed at South Korea, which is home to about 28,000 US troops.
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The launches do not pose an immediate threat to US forces or their allies, according to the US Indo-Pacific Command.
The U.S. security commitment to South Korea and Japan remains “ironclad,” the command said, despite the “destabilizing impact” of the North’s recent tests.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said preliminary information did not report any damage on Japanese soil, although details were still being gathered.
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Pyongyang has claimed the missile tests are being conducted as a show of force as the US and South Korean military forces conduct exercises and war simulations on the Korean Peninsula.
These military exercises are expected to continue until March 23.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un last week ordered military forces to be ready to repel what he called the South’s “frantic war-making moves.”
Last year, North Korea tested more than 70 missiles, many capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Pyongyang has also openly threatened to use them in conflicts with the US and South Korea.
Diplomatic relations between the three countries, which led to the successful suspension of the North’s nuclear program as negotiated by former US President Donald Trump, have stalled and peace talks are non-existent under the president Biden.
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North Korea has used the time away from the negotiating table to develop its missile arsenal. The country could then use these weapons as leverage in future negotiations.
North Korea and China, which have increased their own aggression in the region, have pushed the United States to become more involved in the Indo-Pacific and to strengthen its alliances with South Korea and Japan.
Some experts have argued, however, that Washington-Seoul-Tokyo strategic partnerships and cooperation could prompt Pyongyang, Beijing and Moscow to strengthen their own trilateral ties.
Tuesday’s launches were Pyongyang’s second weapons test this week.
On Monday, North Korea fired two cruise missiles from a submarine. His government also implied that cruise missiles were being developed to carry nuclear warheads.
Later this week, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol is visiting Kishida in Tokyo, where North Korea is expected to be a major issue.
The Associated Press contributed to this report