North Korea Fires Four Short-Range Ballistic Missiles

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North Korea has fired four short-range ballistic missiles into the sea on Saturday, the South Korean military said, the latest in a blitz of weapons launches by Pyongyang this week.

The flurry of North Korean launches has included an intercontinental ballistic missile and one that landed near South Korea’s territorial waters for the first time since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

The launches came as the United States and South Korea conducted their largest-ever joint air force drills, which an infuriated North Korea described as “aggressive and provocative”.

“The South Korean military detected four short-range ballistic missiles launched by North Korea from Tonrim, North Pyongan Province, to the West Sea at around 11:32 a.m. to 11:59 a.m. today,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

Their “flight distance was detected at about 130 km (80 miles), an altitude of about 20 km, and a speed of about Mach 5”, it added. Mach 5 represents five times the speed of sound.

The JCS said South Korean and US intelligence were conducting further analysis on the launches.

The United States and South Korea have warned that these launches could culminate in a nuclear test by North Korea, and extended their air force drills to Saturday in response.

The joint exercise, named Vigilant Storm, was originally scheduled from Monday to Friday.

Pyongyang has ramped up missile launches in protest against the US-South Korea air drills. Such exercises have long infuriated North Korea, which sees them as rehearsals for an invasion.

 




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