North Korea fires two ‘projectiles’ into sea as Japan warns ships about fallen debris

4 weeks ago
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North Korea has fired two unidentified projectiles off the east coast and into the sea, according to the South Korean military.

South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said the US and South Korean militaries were analysing the launches, which are believed to have come from the South Hamgyong Province.

They didn’t provide further details, however earlier Japan said Pyongyang might have fired a ballistic missile, with the coast guard warning ships against coming close to any fallen objects.

The Japanese defence ministry said: “It may have been a ballistic missile. It has not fallen within Japanese territory and is not believed to have come down within Japan’s exclusive economic zone.”

North Korea’s ballistic missiles are banned under the United Nations Security Council Resolutions.

If confirmed it could pose a challenge to US President Joe Biden, whose administration has yet to meaningfully engage with the nation.

The launch came a day after American and South Korean officials said the North had fired short-range weapons, presumed to be cruise missiles, into its western sea over the weekend.

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South Korea’s defence ministry said the North’s short-range tests on Sunday were its first missile firings since April 2020.

Mr Biden played down those launches, telling reporters, “There’s no new wrinkle in what they did.”

South Korea’s presidential office said it will hold an emergency National Security Council meeting to discuss the launches.

Nuclear negotiations between the United States and North Korea have been stalled since the collapse of Kim Jong Un’s second summit with former President Donald Trump in February 2019.

Then, US officials rejected North Korean demands for major sanctions relief, in exchange for a partial surrender of their nuclear capabilities.

Pyongyang has said it refuses to hold talks with Mr Biden unless Washington abandons “hostile” sanctions and pressure over its nuclear program.

Kim Yo Jong is said to be a strong influence on her brother Kim Jong Un Pic: AP
Image: Kim Yo Jong warned Washington over military drills with South Korea. Pic: AP

Last week, Mr Kim’s sister Kim Yo Jong criticised the United States over staging combined military exercises with South Korea.

In North Korea’s first comments towards Joe Biden’s administration, she described the drills as an invasion rehearsal and warned Washington to “refrain from causing a stink” if it wants to “sleep in peace” for the next four years.

In the past, Pyongyang has often responded to US-South Korea drills with missile tests.

On a visit to Seoul last week, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticised North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and human rights record.

He pressed China to use its “tremendous influence” to convince the North to denuclearise.

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