North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles on Friday, the latest in a string of sanctions-violating weapons tests, the military in Seoul said.
This year has been a year of unprecedented tests by North Korea, including launching its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile last month, last week Pyongyang tested a new rocket engine, and this week claimed it had developed new capabilities to Coping with images from space.
“At around 16:32 today (0732 GMT), our military detected two short-range ballistic missiles launched by North Korea into the East Sea from Pyongyang’s Sunan area,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said, referring to the waters, also known as Sea of Japan.
“Our military remains on full alert while working closely with the United States while increasing surveillance and vigilance.”
For months, the United States and South Korea have warned Pyongyang that it was preparing for a seventh nuclear test.
The two countries held joint air drills on Tuesday and deployed a U.S. B-52H strategic bomber to the Korean peninsula, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
The long-range heavy bomber was part of exercises that included the most advanced jet aircraft from the United States and South Korea – including F-22 and F-35 stealth fighter jets.
Friday’s launch came hours after the White House said Pyongyang had supplied arms to Russian private military group Wagner.
The delivery was disclosed on Thursday US time, with the White House calling Wagner a “rival” for power in the Kremlin’s Defense Ministry and others.
The Wagner Group is controlled by Yevgeny Prigozhin, a businessman once dubbed “Putin’s cook” for his dinners for powerful leaders before and after becoming Russia’s president.
In a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s foreign ministry denied any arms deals with Russia, saying the story was “fabricated by some dishonest forces for different purposes.”
Pyongyang has built an arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) despite tough international sanctions on its weapons programme.
Last week, North Korea tested a “high-thrust solid-fuel engine” in what state media described as an important test in “the development of another new strategic weapon system.”
All of its known intercontinental ballistic missiles are liquid fueled, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has made developing solid-fuel engines for more advanced missiles a strategic priority.
Earlier this week, his powerful sister also insisted that North Korea had developed advanced technology to use spy satellites to take images from space.
Kim Jong Un said this year he wanted North Korea to have the world’s most powerful nuclear force, declaring his country an “irreversible” nuclear power.
A wish list he revealed last year included solid-fuel intercontinental ballistic missiles that could be launched from land or submarines.
Analysts said the latest engine test was a step toward that goal, but it was unclear how far North Korea had come in developing the missile.
(Aside from the title, this story is unedited by NDTV staff and published via a syndicated feed.)
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