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South Korea says North Korea has fired two ballistic missiles

 March 14, 2023

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea, a communist regime that occupies the northern half of the Korean Peninsula, test-fired a pair of short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Tuesday, Reuters reported.

The launch came just two days after North Korea test-fired a pair of potentially nuclear-capable submarine-launched cruise missiles.

It also coincided with the start of a major joint military training exercise in the area involving U.S. and South Korean forces that the North Korean regime has warned is unnecessarily provocative and could warrant a response.

Firing of ballistic missiles condemned

According to the Associated Press, the two short-range ballistic missiles appeared to have been fired from the southwestern North Korean town of Jangyon and traveled around 385 miles to the east before crashing into the sea.

According to the Japanese government, there were no reports of any damage caused by those missiles, and it was condemned as a "grave provocation" by South Korean authorities.

"We see there is a possibility that North Korea will step up further provocative actions, including missile launches and nuclear tests," Japanese chief cabinet secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said, per Reuters. "We will continue a close cooperation with the U.S. and South Korea over North Korea's military moves, and gather and analyze information with surveillance."

The South Korean Defense Ministry further asserted that its joint military drills with the U.S. would carry on despite the North Korean attempts to "disrupt them with provocations like missile launches" and escalatory rhetoric.

"The South Korea-U.S. alliance will carry out our exercises and training as planned even if North Korea tries to hamper our Freedom Shield drills with provocations," a South Korean spokesperson told reporters during a briefing, Reuters reported.

Missile tests will not deter partnerships

The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement, "We are aware of the ballistic missile launches and are consulting closely with our allies and partners."

"While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies, the missile launches, and the recent cruise launches, highlight the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs," the statement added. "The U.S. commitments to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remain ironclad."

Prior to the launch of the two short-range ballistic missiles, U.S. National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan addressed the test-firing just a day earlier of the two submarine-launched cruise missiles during a press gaggle aboard Air Force One while en route to an event in San Diego, California, when he was asked for his reaction and whether those cruise missiles represented a new capability for the communist regime.

"The North Koreans first tested a submarine-launched missile capability in 2016. They’ve been refining it. They’ve been trying different iterations of it," Sullivan said. "Over the course of the past 24 hours, you’ve seen them announce the launch of two missiles out of a submarine."

"We’re still studying it, making an assessment of what it means in terms of their capabilities," the top adviser to President Joe Biden added. "But, of course, we’re not going to let any steps North Korea take deter us or constrain us from the actions that we feel are necessary to safeguard stability on the Korean Peninsula."

North Korean threat grows

The AP noted that North Korea, after a lull of several years, ramped up its testing of ballistic missiles in 2022 with more than 70 test launches that year, including many that are believed to be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

The submarine-launched cruise missiles are also believed to likely be nuclear-capable as well, which, if true, would give North Korea a legitimate threat capability of retaliatory strikes against the U.S. and its allies from beyond North Korean territory.

However, the outlet noted that analysts and experts have doubts about whether North Korea actually possesses any nuclear-armed missiles and whether its ballistic missile and submarine programs are technologically advanced enough to pose a genuine threat as of yet.

The AP further reported that South Korea and Japan will soon hold a high-level summit to discuss their joint problems with North Korea, while Reuters reported that the U.S. will soon hold an informal meeting with the United Nations Security Council to discuss North Korea's provocations and human rights abuses.