North Korea fired two ballistic missiles on Thursday and two more missiles on Tuesday, while the United States and the rest of the world concentrated on the growing prospect of a Russian invasion of Ukraine.
The two missile launches were reported by Reuters on Thursday, citing a statement from South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. The launches began at approximately 8 a.m. local time from a launch location near Hamhung. According to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency, the missiles landed in the East Sea, often known as the Sea of Japan.
In a statement released on Wednesday, the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) acknowledged North Korea’s missile launches on Tuesday. The statement read, “We are aware of the ballistic missile launches and are consulting closely with our allies and partners.”
North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency reported on Thursday that a “long-range cruise missile” was tested on Tuesday, and a tactical-guided missile was tested on Thursday.
North Korea’s ballistic missile launches this week are the latest in a string of missile tests the country has conducted this year.
On January 5, North Korea conducted its first missile test of the year. North Korea launched another missile just a few days later, on January 10. North Korea launched two more missiles six days later.
“While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies,” INDOPACOM said of the two missiles North Korea launched on Tuesday, “the recent series of DPRK ballistic missile tests highlight the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons program.”
INDOPACOM also said the U.S.’s “commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad.”
Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a meeting of the Central Committee of North Korea’s sole political party, the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), during which they discussed pursuing advancements in the North Korean military to sustain “a long-term confrontation with the U.S. imperialism.” During that meeting, the North Korean leader also discussed ending North Korea’s self-imposed moratorium on nuclear testing, which it began during the period of denuclearization talks with President Donald Trump’s administration.
Yonhap reported that Noh Kyu-duk, the South Korean special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs, held an emergency meeting with U.S. Special Representative for the DPRK Sung Kim just hours after the Thursday missile launches. Noh and Kim reportedly shared their “deep concerns” over the recent series of North Korean missile tests.
“The two sides shared consensus that it is urgent to prevent the situation from aggravating and agreed to expand cooperation with related parties to resume talks with North Korea under close consultations between South Korea and the U.S.,” South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement, Yonhap reported.
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