North Korea fires two ballistic missiles

North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles at sea off the east coast on Saturday. According to the South Korean military, this was the fourth launch in a week. The two short-range missiles were launched north of the North Korean capital Pyongyang, the South Korean general staff said in a statement. The Japanese Coast Guard also reported at least two suspected ballistic missile tests. The missiles flew 359 and 400 kilometers, respectively, said Japanese Defense Minister Toshiro Ino.

The rocket launch took place after the South Korean naval forces, the United States and Japan on Friday held trilateral anti-submarine exercises for the first time in five years, in which the American aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan also participated. It was the first deployment of an aircraft carrier to South Korea in nearly four years.

It was already the fourth rocket launch this week. Most recently, North Korea had only a few hours after the departure of the American Vice President on Thursday Kamala Harris from South Korea undertook a test with two ballistic missiles. During her visit to the inter-Korean border, Harris used unusually strong language to criticize North Korea as a “brutal dictatorship with rampant human rights abuses and an illegal arms program that threatens peace and stability”.

The US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement Saturday that the missile tests posed “no immediate threat” to the United States and its allies, but underscored the “destabilizing effect of North Korea’s illicit” missile programs.

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