© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A North Korean flag flutters at the Gijungdong propaganda village in North Korea, in this photo taken near the truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) dividing the two Koreas, South Korea, July 19, 2022. REUTERS / CZK
By Nobuhiro Kubo
Authorities in neighboring countries say Pyongyang’s seventh such ballistic missile launch in recent days has added to widespread alarm in Washington and its allies in Tokyo and Seoul. .
Both missiles reached an altitude of 100 kilometers (60 miles) and a range of 350 kilometers, Japanese Defense Minister Toshiro Ino told reporters. The first was fired at around 1:47 a.m. local time (1647 GMT) and the second around 6 minutes later.
Both fell outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, and authorities were looking into what types of missiles were launched, including the possibility of them being submarine-launched ballistic missiles, he said.
The US military said it was consulting closely with allies and partners after the launch, stressing the “destabilizing impact” of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. .
However, the US still assesses that the latest launches pose no threat to US personnel or US allies.
“US commitments to the defense of South Korea and Japan remain void,” Hawaii-based US Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.
North Korea’s latest missile launches are a “serious provocation” that harms peace, the South Korean military said on Sunday.
They were launched from the Muncheon area on North Korea’s east coast, the South Korean statement said.
Officials in Seoul say that an increase in North Korea’s missile launches could signal that it is closer than ever to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017, with preparations being observed at the summit. test site for several months.
On Tuesday, North Korea test-fired a ballistic missile farther than ever, sending it over Japan for the first time in five years and warning people there to be careful.
Ino said Tokyo will not tolerate North Korea’s repeated actions. The incident was the seventh rocket launch since September 25.
North Korea, which has pursued missile and nuclear tests in defiance of UN sanctions, said on Saturday its missile tests were to defend itself against military threats. directly by the United States and without jeopardizing the safety of neighboring countries and regions.
“Our missile tests are a conventional self-defence measure planned to protect our country’s security and regional peace from direct US military threats,” the company said. State media KCNA quoted a spokesman for the aviation regulator as saying.
The United States and South Korea held joint exercises at sea on Friday, a day after Seoul scrambled fighter jets in response to an apparent North Korean bombing drill.
The United States also announced new sanctions on Friday in response to North Korea’s latest missile launch.