North Korea fires 2 ballistic missiles into Sea of Japan, South Korea says

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North Korea fired two ballistic missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, two days after the North claimed to have tested a new missile in its first weapons test in six months.

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South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that two ballistic missiles launched from a site in central North Korea flew toward the waters off the eastern coast of the Korean peninsula on Wednesday afternoon.

South Korean and US intelligence officials are analyzing more details about the North Korean launches, the statement said. It said South Korea has increased its anti-North Korean surveillance posture.

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Japan’s Coast Guard confirmed that both missiles landed outside the Japanese Exclusive Economic Zone in the Sea of ​​Japan between Japan and the Korean Peninsula. The Coast Guard said no ship or aircraft were reported damaged.

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North Korea said on Monday that it tested a newly developed cruise missile twice over the weekend. North Korea’s state media described the missiles as a “strategic weapon of great importance”, implying that they were developed with the intention of arming them with a nuclear warhead. According to North Korean accounts, the missile traveled a range of about 1,500 kilometers (930 mi), capable of reaching Japan and all US military installations there.

Many experts say the North Korean test suggested North Korea is pushing to strengthen its weapons arsenal amid a standoff in nuclear diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington.

The latest launch came as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was in Seoul with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and other senior officials to discuss stalled nuclear diplomacy with the North.

Talks between the United States and North Korea have stalled since 2019, when Americans rejected the North’s demand for major sanctions relief in exchange for dismantling an old nuclear facility. Kim’s government has so far threatened to build high-tech weapons targeting the United States and has rejected the Biden administration’s proposals for talks, demanding that Washington first drop its “hostile” policies.

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The prospect of resuming the North’s testing activity after Kim failed to leverage his arsenal for economic gains during Donald Trump’s presidency is an attempt to pressure the Biden administration over the diplomatic freeze.

North Korea ended a year-long hiatus in ballistic tests by firing two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea in March, a tradition of testing the new US administration with weapons displays aimed at measuring Washington’s response and wresting concessions. continued to.

North Korea still maintains a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests, a sign that it does not want to stop nuclear talks with the United States altogether.

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