North fires missiles as UN expands sanctions

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North fires missiles as UN expands sanctions

North Korea fired six short-range missiles off its east coast early Thursday, South Korean military officials said, just hours after the United Nations approved a new set of harsh sanctions against Pyongyang in response to its recent nuclear test and missile launch.

A spokesman at the Ministry of Defense said North Korea fired six short-range missiles around 10 a.m. from the eastern port city of Wonsan that flew between 100 kilometers (60 miles) and 150 kilometers.

The isolated North has previously fired short-range missiles or artillery into the sea as a sign of defiance during joint annual military drills between the United States and South Korea, which Pyongyang denounces as a rehearsal for invasion.

However, South Korea government sources said that this time, the launch was likely an “armed protest” against the sanctions the UN Security Council unanimously adopted Wednesday, just 10 hours before Pyongyang fired a missile volley into the East Sea. The Joint Chiefs of Staff reiterated Thursday that the South Korean military remains on high alert and has maintained a readiness posture.

On Thursday, the U.S. Marine Corps’ amphibious assault ship, the USS Bonhomme Richard, arrived in the southern port city of Busan. It will be used in the annual military exercises between Seoul and Washington.

The drills, Key Resolve and Foal Eagle, kick off Monday and are the largest-ever since the exercises began. Last year, North Korea fired two short-range missiles off its east coast on March 2, the first day of the Key Resolve exercise between the United States and Seoul.

BY JEONG YONG-SOO, KIM SO-HEE [kim.sohee0905@joongang.co.kr]

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