N Korea fires eight missiles as S Korea, US wrap up naval drills

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Latest launch also comes amid signs North Korea is pressing ahead with preparations at its nuclear testing ground in Punggye-ri.

North Korea has test-fired eight short-range ballistic missiles toward the sea off its east coast, a day after South Korea and the United States wrapped up naval drills in the Philippine Sea.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles were fired from the Sunan area of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, on Sunday.

They flew between 110 km-600 km (70-370 miles) at altitudes between 25 km to 90 km (15-55 miles).

Japan’s government also reported that the North had launched a suspected ballistic missile.

The launch was North Korea’s 18th round of missile tests in 2022 alone – a streak that has included the country’s first demonstrations of intercontinental ballistic missiles in nearly five years.

South Korean and US officials say there are signs that North Korea is also pressing ahead with preparations at its nuclear testing ground in the northeastern town of Punggye-ri.

The North’s next nuclear test would be its seventh since 2006 and the first since it claimed to have detonated a thermonuclear bomb to fit on its ICBMs in September 2017.

In response to Sunday’s tests, South Korea President Yoon Suk-yeol convened a National Security Council meeting and ordered “expanded deterrence of South Korea and the United States and continued reinforcement of united defense posture”.

The NSC meeting concluded that the missile launch was North Korea’s “test and challenge” of the security readiness of South Korea’s new administration, which took office last month, the president’s office said in a news release.

South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Kim Gunn, its Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs, discussed the “provocation” with US Special Representative Sung Kim, the US point man on North Korean affairs. Kim Gunn also held a telephone conference with his Japanese counterpart Funakoshi Takehiro.

The three men had met in Seoul on Friday and had pledged to prepare for “all contingencies” should North Korea test a nuclear weapon.




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