North Korea sends two more missiles into sea
North Korea set off another volley of suspected short-range ballistic or tactical guided missiles on Thursday morning, with South Korean military authorities saying that the missiles landed in the eastern waters off the Korean Peninsula.
According to the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the North launched two missiles from the northeastern city of Hamhung, South Hamgyong Province, at 8:00 a.m. and 8:05 a.m., and they landed 190 kilometers (118 miles) away in the sea after reaching an altitude of 20 kilometers.
The North is presumed to have set the missiles’ target on Al Island, an uninhabited island that has been previously used as the destination of test missiles, according to a military official who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
“The intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States are conducting a detailed analysis," the JCS said in a text message sent to reporters.
The missile test is the sixth conducted by the North in the new year.
North Korea conducted two separate tests of what it claimed were hypersonic glide missiles on Jan. 5 and 10, followed by a test of train-launched missiles Jan. 14 and a tactical guided missile test from Sunan Airfield near Pyongyang on Jan. 17.
The fifth test, which took place Tuesday, saw two cruise missiles being launched by the North, but South Korean officials did not announce their occurrence until Wednesday.
The JCS acknowledged Tuesday’s launches in a press briefing convened a day later, after media outlets had already reported the test had taken place.
Echoing their official response to Tuesday’s tests, military authorities said that South Korean surveillance assets are capable of detecting and intercepting any missiles from the North should they be directed south.
Under successive United Nations Security Council resolutions, the North is forbidden from conducting tests of ballistic missile technology, although cruise missiles are not subject to this ban.
The flurry of missile tests at the beginning of this year by North Korea comes as the United States has ratcheted up pressure on the reclusive regime through proposals for more international sanctions, while insisting it is ready to meet the regime’s representatives for talks without preconditions.
The tests also triggered a second call by the United States for a meeting of the UN Security Council to address missile launches by North Korea, after the body already held a meeting on the subject on Jan. 11.
At the second meeting, which took place Jan. 20, the United States called for sanctions on five North Koreans tied to the country’s weapons program.
However, China and Russia placed a “hold” on the U.S. proposal, citing the need for more time to examine the proposal and more evidence.
That same day, Pyongyang suggested through its state media that it was considering re-starting “previously suspended activities” — a statement widely interpreted as an end to its self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing, which has been in place since 2017.
BY MICHAEL LEE [email@example.com]