A pair of North Korean missile launches on Wednesday do not pose an immediate threat to the United States or its allies, the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.
“While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies, the missile launch highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons program,” it said, referring to North Korea by its official name.
North Korea fired a pair of ballistic missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, South Korea’s military said, ratcheting up regional tension just days after testing a cruise missile that is believed to have nuclear capabilities.
The launches came amid a flurry of activity on the peninsula, including high-level diplomatic talks and South Korea’s testing of a newly developed submarine-launched ballistic missile of its own.
North Korea has been steadily developing its weapons systems amid a standoff over talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals in return for US sanctions relief. The negotiations, initiated between former US President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in 2018, have stalled since 2019.
“North Korea fired two unidentified ballistic missiles from its central inland region toward the east coast, and intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States are conducting detailed analysis for further information,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.
The missiles were fired just after 12:30 p.m. (0330 GMT), flying 800 km (497 miles) to a maximum altitude of 60 km (37 miles), the JCS reported.
South Korea’s military has raised its level of surveillance, and is maintaining a full readiness posture in close cooperation with the United States, the JCS added.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called the missile launch “outrageous” and strongly condemned it as a threat to peace and security in the region.
Japan’s Coast Guard said the missiles landed outside its exclusive economic zone.
Both Suga and South Korean President Moon Jae-in would convene sessions of their national security councils to discuss the launches, their offices said.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing that China hoped “relevant parties” would “exercise restraint.”