North Korea fires two missiles, second test in three days |


Launches come as the US and South Korea conduct large-scale military exercises that North Korea sees as rehearsals for an invasion.

North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles into waters off the east coast, the second showdown this week, as South Korea and the United States hold their largest military exercises in years.

The missiles were fired in the space of about 10 minutes from 07:41 local time on Tuesday morning (Monday 22:41 GMT), South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

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“Our military has increased surveillance and vigilance in preparation for additional launches while maintaining full readiness through close cooperation between South Korea and the United States,” the JCS statement said.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Japan was collecting information about the missile.

Pyongyang’s latest test is the second in three days and comes as the US and South Korea hold large-scale “Freedom Shield” military exercises that will last until March 23. It is the first time they have held such exercises, which North Korea sees as a rehearsal for invasion, since 2018.

On Sunday night, South Korea said it had detected the submarine’s launch and North Korean state media said the following day it had tested two so-called submarine-launched strategic cruise missiles.

Earlier this month, leader Kim Jong-un ordered the military to step up exercises to deter and respond to a “real war” if necessary.

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North Korea fired more than 70 missiles in 2022, including intercontinental ballistic missiles with the potential range to reach the US mainland, and short-range nuclear-powered missiles that could target South Korea.

The US and South Korea have said the Freedom Shield exercises focus on the “changing security environment” resulting from North Korea’s redoubled aggression, and will “include wartime procedures to repel potential North Korean attacks and to conduct a stabilization campaign in the north”.

The Allies have emphasized that the exercises are “defensive based on a combined operational plan”.

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Analysts have said North Korea will likely use the exercises as an excuse to conduct more missile launches, and perhaps even a nuclear test.

“More missile launches with variations in style and range are to be expected, with even a nuclear test. More acts of intimidation from North Korea should come as no surprise,” Chun In-bum, a retired South Korean army general, told AFP news agency.

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