North Korea fires two ballistic missiles into the sea
By Alastair Wanklyn - Tokyo
North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea on Friday, coinciding with the close of military exercises by United States and South Korean troops.
The missiles flew aout 230 kilometers, a range that could hit most major cities in South Korea.
The South’s military called it “a grave provocation” which undermines peace.
The United States military said the launches highlight a “destabilizing impact” of Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programmes.
The U.S. military command on Thursday released a report which said if Pyongyang uses nuclear weapons against the U.S. or its allies, it “will result in the end of that regime.”
The foreign ministry in Seoul urged Pyongyang to return to talks. Earlier this week, Washington reiterated the offer of talks without preconditions.
Exercises involving U.S. and South Korean troops have been under way. North Korea typically frames those drills as preparations for invasion. A new round of exercises is scheduled next week, thisone involving around 240 warplanes.
Meanwhile, the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency said on Thursday monitors have been observing preparations for a nuclear test explosion by North Korea.
If that happens, IAEA chief Rafael Grossi said, it would underscore an “incredibly concerning” rate of progress by Pyongyang on building nuclear weapons.
Senior diplomats from Seoul, Tokyo and Washington met in Tokyo on Wednesday. They announced plans to step up deterrence, but gave no details.