Seoul: North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea on Saturday, a day after South Korea conducted a test flight of a homegrown solid-propellant space rocket, Seoul’s military said.
The South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected the launches from Chunghwa county, some 60 km south of Pyongyang, from 8 a.m. and that the missiles travelled some 350 km before splashing into the sea, reports Yonhap News Agency.
It did not provide other details, saying the intelligence authorities of the South and the US are conducting a detailed analysis on the missiles’ specifics.
The JCS denounced the launches as an act of “significant provocation” that harms peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in the international community, and a “clear” breach of UN Security Council resolutions.
“We strongly condemn them and call for an immediate stop,” the JCS said in a text message sent to reporters.
“Our military will maintain a solid readiness posture based on capabilities to respond overwhelmingly to any North Korean provocations.”
The North appears to have fired the missiles toward a preset target on Alseom, an uninhabited island off the North’s east coast, according to an informed source.
The US Indo-Pacific Command said that while the launches do not pose an immediate threat to Washington or its allies, they highlight the “destabilising” impact of the North’s “unlawful” weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs.
“The US commitments to the defence of the Republic of Korea and Japan remain ironclad,” it said in a statement on its website.
On Friday, South Korea conducted the test of the space launch vehicle as part of efforts to strengthen its space-based reconnaissance and surveillance capabilities, according to the Defence Ministry.
Saturday’s missile launch came as Pyongyang is expected to announce its policy goals for 2023 following this week’s Central Committee plenary meeting of the ruling Workers’ Party.
The saber-rattling added to tensions caused by North Korean drone infiltrations on Monday.
The North previously fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea on December 23, less than a week after its launch of two medium-range ones.
The country launched around 70 ballistic missiles in 2022 alone, marking a single-year record.