North Korea has launched multiple cruise missiles towards the sea, South Korea’s military said, three days after the North carried out what it called a simulated nuclear attack on South Korea.
The launch on Wednesday comes as South Korea and the United States stage major joint military drills.
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“The South Korean military has detected multiple cruise missiles launched into the East Sea” by North Korea, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement, referring to the body of water also known as the Sea of Japan.
“Detailed specifications are being analysed by South Korea-US intelligence authorities,” it added.
After a record-breaking year of weapon tests and growing nuclear threats from Pyongyang, Seoul and Washington have ramped up security cooperation, and on March 13 kicked off their largest joint military drills in five years.
Known as Freedom Shield, the drills run for at least 10 days.
South Korea’s military said it would “successfully complete the planned joint Freedom Shield drills under a firm joint defence posture”.
North Korea views all such exercises as rehearsals for invasion, saying they could be seen as a “declaration of war” and has repeatedly threatened to take “overwhelming” action in response.
Wednesday’s launch comes about a week after Pyongyang test-fired its largest and most powerful missile, a Hwasong-17 – its second ICBM test this year. The North’s state media described the ICBM launch as a response to the ongoing, “frantic” US-South Korea drills.
The US-South Korean military drills are to end on Thursday but North Korea is expected to continue its testing activities as the US reportedly plans to send an aircraft carrier in the coming days for another round of joint drills with South Korea.
On Sunday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un supervised a test-firing of a short-range ballistic missile that was launched from what was possibly a silo dug into the ground. North Korea’s state media called the launch a simulated nuclear attack on unspecified South Korean targets.