North and South Korea on Wednesday conducted tests of their respective ballistic missiles hours apart from each other, AP reported.
North Korea fired two missiles off its eastern coast just after 12.30 am Greenwich Mean Time (6 am according to Indian Standard Time), Reuters reported.
“North Korea fired two unidentified ballistic missiles from its central inland region toward the east coast, and intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States are conducting detailed analysis for further information,” South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said in a statement.
The statement added that the missiles covered a distance of about 800 kilometres and reached a maximum altitude of 60 kilometres. The missiles flew towards the Korean Peninsula’s east coast and landed outside neighbouring Japan’s exclusive economic zone, according to Bloomberg.
Over the weekend, North Korea had tested its new long-range cruise missile that reportedly had the potential to hit Japan.
On Wednesday, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga described North Korea’s actions as “outrageous”, AP reported.
“The firings threaten the peace and safety of Japan and the region,” Suga said. “The government of Japan is determined to further step up our vigilance and surveillance to be prepared for any contingencies.”
Meanwhile, hours after North Korea’s test launch, South Korea announced that it had successfully tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile, a first for the country, AP reported.
In a statement, South Korea said that the domestically-built missile that was fired from a 3,000-ton submarine hit its designated target during the test. The weapon is expected to help South Korea deter potential external threats, boost its self-defense posture and promote peace on the Korean Peninsula, the statement said, according to AP.
The United States Indo Pacific Command said North Korea’s launches did not immediately pose a threat to its personnel, territory or allies.
International law prohibits North Korea from testing nuclear weapons or ballistic missiles, CNN reported. However, the missiles that the country tested on Wednesday were short-range and typically do not attract fresh sanctions from the United Nations Security Council, according to AP.