North Korea reportedly fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan early on Saturday, a day after South Korea lopped off a ‘key’ military intelligence-sharing pact with Japan.
“North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles at 6:45 a.m. and 7:02 a.m. from the eastern province of South Hamgyong. The missiles had flown about 380 km (235 miles) with a maximum speed of ‘Mach 6.5 or higher’ and an apogee of 97 km,” Japanese Defense Ministry said.
This is the seventh instance of Pyongyang’s launching missiles in less than a month, and the ninth since May. Use of ballistic missile technology is banned under UN sanctions resolutions.
The ministry said that firing of ‘apparently ballistic missiles’ did not affect Japan’s security, and that the weapons did not land in the country’s exclusive economic zone.
“North Korea’s repeated launches of projectiles and missiles indicate that the country is working on developing this technology,” Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said.
A senior US official told The Japan Times that Washington was “aware of reports of a missile launch from North Korea” and that they would continue to monitor the situation.
“We are consulting closely with our Japanese and South Korean allies,” the official said.
On Friday, Seoul broke off its General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) with Tokyo, stating that it did not meet the country’s “national interests.” The intelligence-sharing pact is due to expire in November.
However, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs said Seoul would share intelligence on the missile launches with Japan, upon Tokyo’s request.
US President Donald Trump said recently that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had promised him that “this testing would stop” once US-South Korea joint military exercises are concluded. The drills ended Tuesday.