A North Korean ballistic missile landed less than 60 kilometers off the South Korean coast on Wednesday (2). This was the first time an apparent test had crashed near South Korean waters, prompting air strike warnings, officials said.
The missile was one of three short-range ballistic missiles fired from the North Korean coastal area of Wonsan out to sea, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.
The JCS said at least one of the missiles landed 26 kilometers south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a disputed inter-Korean maritime border. The missile landed 57 kilometers from the South Korean east coast town of Sokcho and 167 kilometers from Ulleung, where air strike warnings were issued.
“We heard the siren around 8:55 am and all of us in the building went down to the basement evacuation site,” an Ulleung County official told Reuters. “We stayed there until we got up there around 9:15 am, after hearing that the projectile had landed on the high seas.”
The launches came just hours after Pyongyang demanded the United States and South Korea halt large-scale military exercises, saying “such provocation and military recklessness can no longer be tolerated.”
A spokesman for the South Korean military said officials were analyzing the launches to see if the missile’s flight paths were intentional or if one of them went off course.
It was the first time a North Korean ballistic missile had landed near South Korean waters, the JCS said.
“Our military can never tolerate this kind of provocative act by North Korea and will respond strictly and firmly under close cooperation between South Korea and the US,” JCS said in a press release.
“For North Korea to test missiles in the S or SE direction in the East Sea and towards South Korean territory is highly unusual and particularly provocative,” wrote Joseph Dempsey, a defense researcher at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, in his networks. social.
On Monday, the United States and South Korea began Vigilant Storm, one of their largest combined military air exercises, with hundreds of warplanes from both sides carrying out simulated attacks 24 hours a day.
North Korea has tested a record number of missiles this year and said a recent spate of launches was in response to Allied exercises.
Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the government believed at least two ballistic missiles were launched from North Korea, one flying east and one southeast.
“North Korea has repeatedly launched missiles at an unprecedented rate, in new ways we’ve never seen before,” Hamada told reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday morning.
“These actions threaten the peace and stability of Japan, the region at large, as well as the international community at large, and are totally unacceptable,” he added.
Japan filed a complaint and protested the actions through diplomatic channels in Beijing, he said.
(Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi, Choonsik Yoo and Josh Smith; additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington and Sakura Murakami in Tokyo)
Source: CNN Brasil
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