South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that North Korea fired three unidentified projectiles into the East Sea on Monday, The Korea Times reported. Last week, North Korea had fired two projectiles.

In the press release, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectiles were fired in the North East direction from areas near North Korea’s town of Sondok in South Hamgyong Province. “Our military is monitoring the situation in case of additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture,” the chiefs said.

The type, flight range and altitude of the projectiles is not yet clear. On March 2, Pyongyang had fired two missiles from a super-large multiple rocket launcher after a three-month hiatus. This was believed to be North Korea’s artillery strike drill for winter exercises.

Pyongyang had fired missiles 13 times last year following stalled denuclearisation talks with the United States. Seoul said Pyongyang on Monday seemed to have fired two “short range ballistic missiles” which it is banned from doing under United Nations Security Council resolutions, AFP reported.

A spokesperson at Japan’s defence ministry said North Korea launched what appeared to be “ballistic missile”, adding there was no indication of anything coming down in Tokyo’s territory or its exclusive economic zone.

Monday’s launches came days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a personal letter to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, wishing him and other South Koreans good health in the face of the coronavirus epidemic in the country.

On January 1, Kim had said North Korea will lift the suspension of nuclear and long-range missile tests that were in place while denuclearisation discussions were on with the United States. He claimed that his country will soon announce the introduction of a “new strategic weapon”.

The North Korean leader had said that Pyongyang was no longer tied to the self-declared moratorium as the US continued to carry out joint military drills with South Korea.

US-North Korea dialogue

Kim and US President Donald Trump met for the first time on June 12, 2018, in Singapore, following which the North Korean leader committed to the “complete denuclearisation” of the Korean Peninsula. In response, Trump announced the suspension of Washington’s “very provocative” joint military exercises with South Korea.

The two leaders held a second meeting in Vietnam in February last year but it ended abruptly following a disagreement over sanctions imposed on North Korea. In March, North Korea promised further negotiations on its nuclear weapons with the United States despite both countries failing to reach a deal at the Hanoi summit.

However, tensions escalated in May 2019 when Pyongyang fired short-range missiles for the first time since November 2017. This was followed by the testing of more ballistic missiles in July. US-South Korea military exercises also resumed in the aftermath of the May tests.