North Korea Fires Two Missiles Following Warning Over US Aircraft Carrier

A ballistic missile at a military parade in North Korea

North Korea has fired two short-range ballistic missiles, following a warning from Pyongyang that the redeployment of a US aircraft carrier close to the nation’s borders was inflaming tensions.

A statement from South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said it detected two missile launches from the North between 1.48am and 1.58am on Sunday local time, originating in the eastern coastal city of Munchon. It added that South Korea’s military has boosted surveillance remains in close coordination with the US.

Japanese vice defense minister Toshiro Ino also confirmed the launches, calling the North’s testing activities “absolutely unacceptable” and posing a threat to regional peace.

Ino said the weapons could be submarine-launched ballistic missiles. “We are continuing to analyze details of the missiles, including a possibility that they might have been launched from the sea,” he said.

Confirmation that the missiles were successfully launched from a submarine it would represent a major advance for North Korea, allowing the nation to better avoid early detection in the case of an attack. It is understood that the country’s military have been testing submarine-launched missiles but it is not clear how close they are to producing operational weapons. The last such test took place in May.

Ino said both missiles flew about 220 miles (350km) at a maximum altitude of 60 miles (100km) before they fell into the waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan.

A statement from the US Indo-Pacific Command said that the launches did not pose any immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to its allies, adding that its commitment to the defense of South Korea and Japan remain “ironclad”.

The launch was North Korea’s seventh round of weapons tests in two weeks, and came just hours after the US and South Korea ended two day of naval drills off the Korean peninsula’s east coast.