Seoul, South Korea ( Associated Press) — North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile into its eastern waters on Wednesday, expanding its recent weapons tests, which last week included simulated strikes against South Korean and American targets. . ,
According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the projectiles were fired from the western city of Sukchon, which is north of the capital Pyongyang, and flew over the country towards the waters of the east coast.
South Korean and Japanese forces said the missile traveled 250 to 290 kilometers (155 to 180 mi) at a maximum altitude of 30 to 50 kilometers (18 to 30 mi). The relatively short trajectory appeared to be in keeping with the flight characteristics of some of North Korea’s newer short-range weapons designed to evade missile defense.
Japan’s Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the projectile fell outside the country’s Maritime Exclusive Economic Zone and said North Korea’s intense tests had “significantly escalated” regional tensions. Tokyo lodged a protest against Pyongyang through its embassies in Beijing.
The South’s foreign ministry said Seoul’s nuclear envoy Kim Gunn held separate phone talks with his US and Japanese counterparts to discuss trilateral cooperation to counter the growing nuclear threat and increased North Korean weapons testing. .
South Korean officials say North Korea may try to escalate the pressure in the coming weeks by conducting its first nuclear test since 2017.
Wednesday’s incident comes after the North fired dozens of missiles last week to coincide with a massive joint air exercise by Seoul and Washington, which Pyongyang says is an invasion rehearsal.
Separately, the South Korean military determined earlier in the day that the debris recovered from one of the projectiles launched northward south last week was a 1960s Soviet-era anti-aircraft weapon.
South Korea’s defense ministry said on Sunday an analysis of a three-metre (9.8-foot)-long piece found in waters near the eastern maritime border showed it to be one of North Korea’s surface-to-air missiles. Wednesday. The Russian military used similar shells in ground attacks during their invasion of Ukraine.
The North’s military claimed on Monday that its tests last week were exercises to “mercilessly” attack South Korean and US targets such as air bases and command operation systems.
According to Pyongyang, it used ballistic missiles loaded with scatter and underground infiltration weapons to launch attacks on enemy air targets; Surface-to-air missiles designed to “destroy” enemy aircraft at different altitudes and distances, and strategic cruise missiles that fall southeast of the South Korean coast.
Last week, the North Korean military launched dozens of projectiles into the sea, including an intercontinental ballistic missile, in response to a joint “storm watcher” exercise between the United States and South Korea that warned of an evacuation in northern Japan. on Saturday and in which more than 240 aircraft participated.
North Korea has accelerated its testing at a record pace this year as its leader Kim Jong Un captured the distraction created by Russia’s war in Ukraine to accelerate weapons development and increase pressure on Washington and its regional allies Is.