North Korea has confirmed it launched two missiles that it said were part of a drill designed to train military units to carry out missions at any time and “annihilate the enemy” if necessary.
State news agency KCNA on Wednesday described the launches as “demonstration drills”.
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It said the two surface-to-surface tactical ballistic missiles were fired from near the west coast in South Hwanghae province, and flew some 611 kilometres (380 miles) across the country before hitting a target on a small island off its northeastern coast.
“Saying that they will surely annihilate the enemy if they fight it, the commander of the unit resolved to thoroughly have the ability to fully carry out its duty of fire assault any time by further intensifying the training of every fire assault company,” KCNA said.
South Korea’s military announced on Tuesday it had detected the North Korean launches, the latest to take place during the 11 days of joint exercises between South Korea and the United States known as Freedom Shield that Pyongyang considers a rehearsal for invasion and proof of the two countries’ hostility.
In recent days, Pyongyang has tested weaponry including a submarine-launched weapon, and short-range ballistic missiles.
North Korea conducted a record number of missile launches last year as it accelerated efforts to modernise its arsenal. It has also been observed making repairs at its nuclear weapons test site, raising concerns it might also be planning its first nuclear test since 2017.
South Korea’s military “strongly condemned” North Korea, calling the repeated missile launches a grave provocation threatening the region’s peace and security, and a US State Department spokesperson criticised the launches as a violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.