Missiles Fired Ahead of Harris Trip 09/28 06:16
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea fired two short-range ballistic
missiles toward its eastern waters on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, a
day before U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is to visit the South.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the North
Korean missiles lifted off 10 minutes apart on Wednesday afternoon from its
capital region and flew toward the waters off its east coast.
It said South Korea has boosted its surveillance and is maintaining a
military readiness in close coordination with the United States.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed officials to take "utmost
caution" in case of any emergencies, while gathering information and ensuring
the safety of vessels and aircraft. Japan's coast guard issued a warning to
vessels in the area, but there were no reports of damage.
The launches follow a missile test by North Korea earlier this week. Harris
is to arrive in South Korea on Thursday for talks with President Yoon Suk Yeol
and other officials. She also is to visit the tense border with North Korea, in
what U.S. officials call an attempt to underscore the strength of the
U.S.-South Korean alliance and the U.S. commitment to "stand beside" South
Korea in the face of any North Korea threats.
U.S. and South Korean navy ships are also conducting drills off South
Korea's east coast in a show of force against North Korea.
The four-day exercise, which began Monday, involves the nuclear-powered
aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. It is the first training exercise by the
allies involving a U.S. aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula since 2017.
South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises often draw a furious response from
North Korea, which views them as an invasion rehearsal. A short-range North
Korean missile launched Sunday was seen as a response to the U.S.-South Korean
North Korea has dialed up its missile testing activities to a record pace in
2022, launching more than 30 ballistic weapons, including its first
intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017. North Korea's Sunan area where
Wednesday's launches occurred was the site of various missile tests this year,
including two ICBMs.
Earlier this month, North Korea adopted a new law authorizing the preemptive
use of nuclear weapons in some situations, as it continues to escalate its
nuclear doctrine. U.S. and South Korean officials have also said the North may
soon conduct its first nuclear test in five years.
Earlier Wednesday, South Korea's spy agency told lawmakers that a nuclear
test could happen between mid-October and early November.
According to some lawmakers who attended the meeting, the National
Intelligence Service said if the test occurs, it is likely to come after China,
North Korea's last major ally, holds a key Communist Party congress on Oct. 16
but before the United States votes in midterm elections on Nov. 7.
North Korea's torrid run of weapons tests this year is seen as exploiting
divides in the United Nations Security Council over Russia's war against
Ukraine and the U.S.-China rivalry. In May, China and Russia vetoed a U.S.-led
bid to impose new sanctions on North Korea over its ballistic missile tests
this year, which violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.