The US military has confirmed that North Korea has fired three short-range ballistic missiles towards the sea off its eastern coast, saying two of the missiles failed during flight and one of them exploded.
According to a spokesman for the US Pacific Command, none of the missiles, which were launched over a span of 30 minutes near Kittaeryong area on Saturday, posed a threat to either North America or the US Pacific territory of Guam.
“The first and third missiles… failed in flight. The second missile launch… appears to have blown up almost immediately,” said the spokesman, Commander Dave Benham.
Earlier in the day, South Korea’s military said North Korea had fired several short-range projectiles from its Kangwon province that flew about 250 kilometers (155 miles) before landing in the sea off its eastern coast.
Saturday’s launch was the first the North has conducted since July 28, when it test-fired a missile that could have been designed to travel 10,000 km (6,200 miles) to be capable of targeting parts of the US soil.
Pyongyang successfully tested the submarine-launched Pukguksong-1 in August last year and test-fired the land-based Pukguksong-2 in February this year. Both missiles are believed to have intermediate ranges.
On Wednesday, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un ordered the production of more rocket warheads and engines, shortly after the United States suggested that its threats of military action and sanctions were having an impact on Pyongyang’s behavior.
Kim’s recent order followed weeks of tensions between Pyongyang and Washington, and coincided with an annual joint drill being carried out by US and South Korean forces on the Korean Peninsula.
During the war games, which began on Monday and will run through the end of this month, computer simulations of a possible war on the peninsula are being conducted.
Earlier, and in the midst of a heated war of words with North Korea, Trump had threatened Pyongyang with American “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Later still, he said the US military was “locked and loaded” for a possible invasion of North Korea.
The US slapped sanctions on 16 Chinese and Russian individuals and companies on Tuesday, accusing them of involvement in business with North Korea that helped the country advance its nuclear and missile programs.
Earlier this month, a US-drafted sanctions resolution had been adopted by the United Nations Security Council against North Korea.
Categories: Asia-Middle East Relations