February 3, 2023

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North Korea fires 3 ballistic missiles towards Sea of Japan

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Japan’s defence ministry said the missiles landed in the Sea of Japan and there were no reports of damage as of yet.

North Korea has fired three short-range ballistic missiles towards the Sea of Japan, the latest launches in a year that has seen an unprecedented barrage of missile tests by an increasingly belligerent Pyongyang.

Japan’s Ministry of Defence said the first ballistic missile was fired on Saturday morning shortly after 08:00am local time (23:00 GMT), the second was launched at approximately 08:14am (23:14 GMT), and a third missile took off a minute later.

All three missiles were fired from the suburbs of the capital Pyongyang and reached an altitude of 100km (62 miles) and flew for an estimated 350km (217 miles).

The missiles splashed down in the Sea of Japan but outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone – a body of water that extends approximately 370km (200 nautical miles) from the country’s coastline – according to the ministry and news organisations.

The ministry said that warning information was provided to aircraft and ships in the vicinity of the missiles’ flight path, but there were no incidents reported “at this time”.

“North Korea’s series of actions, including its repeated ballistic missile launches, threatens the peace and security of Japan, the region, and the international community. In addition, such ballistic tests violate relevant United Nations Security Council resolutions,” the defence ministry said in a statement.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff confirmed the missile launches by North Korea and said their military was monitoring the situation.

“Our military maintains a full readiness posture while closely cooperating with the US and strengthening surveillance and vigilance,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The launches on Saturday add to North Korea’s tally of about 70 ballistic missiles – including some eight intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) – fired throughout the year, the most ever by the nuclear-armed Pyongyang which has officially announced plans to modernise its military capabilities in response to what it says is a provocation by South Korea and its key ally, the United States.

Saturday’s launch also comes just days after North Korea allegedly flew drones into South Korea’s airspace for the first time since 2017, prompting Seoul to deploy fighter jets and helicopters to shoot down the unmanned aerial vehicles.

South Korea’s military later apologised for failing to shoot down the drones and the country’s President Yoon Suk Yeol has since called for stronger air defences and high-tech stealth drones to better monitor North Korea.

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