N Korea fires missiles in response to US sanctions

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA (AP) – North Korea yesterday fired what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles in its third weapons launch this month, officials in South Korea said, in an apparent reprisal for fresh sanctions imposed by the Biden administration for its continuing test launches.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles were fired 11 minutes apart from an inland area in western North Pyongan province, where North Korea is known to operate key missile bases and has frequently conducted test launches in recent years.

The missiles flew 430 kilometres cross-country on a maximum altitude of 36 kilometres before landing in the sea, the military said.

Japan’s coast guard urged vessels to pay attention to falling objects, but Chief Cabinet Secetary Hirokazu Matsuno said there were no reports of damage to vessels or aircraft.

Hours earlier, North Korea issued a statement berating the Biden administration for imposing fresh sanctions over its previous missile tests and warned of stronger and more explicit action if Washington maintains its “confrontational stance”.

The sanctions targetted five North Koreans over their roles in obtaining equipment and technology for the North’s missile programmes in its response to the North’s missile test this week.

Washington also said it would seek new United Nations (UN) sanctions.

The test-launch of a hypersonic missile on Tuesday – the second in a week – was overseen by leader Kim Jong-un, who said it would greatly increase his country’s nuclear “war deterrent”.

North Korea has been ramping up tests of new, potentially nuclear-capable missiles designed to overwhelm missile defences in the region. Some experts said Kim is going back to a tried-and-true technique of pressuring the world with missile launches and outrageous threats before offering negotiations meant to extract concessions.

People watch a news programme on a TV screen reporting about North Korea’s missile launch in Seoul, South Korea. PHOTO: AP