HomeWorldN.Korea fires two ballistic missiles ahead of Harris visit to South

N.Korea fires two ballistic missiles ahead of Harris visit to South

SEOUL, Sept. 28 (Reuters) – North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles off the east coast on Wednesday, the South Korean military said, a day before US Vice President Kamala Harris was scheduled to arrive in Seoul.

The launch came two days after South Korean and US forces conducted a military exercise in waters off the south’s east coast involving an aircraft carrier. North Korea fired another ballistic missile toward the sea off the east coast on Sunday.

Wednesday’s missiles were launched from the Sunan area of ​​Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, between 6:10 PM and 6:20 PM (0910-0920 GMT), South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said.

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They flew about 360 km (225 miles), reaching an altitude of 30 km (19 miles) and a maximum speed of Mach 6 (4,600 mph or 7,450 kmh), they said, adding that detailed analysis was underway.

“North Korea’s provocations will further strengthen South Korea’s and the US’s deterrent and response capabilities and will only deepen North Korea’s isolation from the international community,” the Joint Chiefs said in a statement.

South Korea’s National Security Council held an emergency meeting condemning the test and promising to continue building “overwhelming” capacity to deter North Korea, President Yoon Suk-yeol’s office said in a separate statement.

North Korean state media did not report reports of the latest launches, but leader Kim Jong Un has said the development of nuclear weapons and missiles is aimed at defending North Korea against US threats.

The Japanese Coast Guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile test, which was condemned as “unacceptable” by Defense Minister Toshiro Ino. He said Pyongyang’s repeated missile launches put Japanese and international security at risk.

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After a layover in Japan, Harris lands in the South Korean capital and visits the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between neighbors on Thursday.

In a speech hours earlier aboard the destroyer USS Howard in the Japanese city of Yokosuka, Harris called Sunday’s missile launch part of an “illegal weapons program that threatens regional stability and violates multiple UN Security Council resolutions.”

The US Indo-Pacific Command said the latest launch highlights the “destabilizing impact” of the north’s illegitimate weapons programs.

A US State Department spokesman also condemned the test as a regional threat, but said Washington remained committed to a diplomatic approach and urged Pyongyang to engage in a dialogue.

North Korea has been testing missiles at an unprecedented rate this year, while this week’s joint exercise is a show of force intended to warn of what could be Pyongyang’s first nuclear test since 2017.

The isolated country has completed preparations for a nuclear test, which could open a window between China’s party congress in October and the US midterm elections in November, South Korean lawmakers said Wednesday. read more

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Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional coverage by Kantaro Komiya and Trevor Hunnicutt in Tokyo and Susan Heavey in Washington; Editing by Robert Birsel, Clarence Fernandez and Mark Heinrich

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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