solNorth Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles in its third weapons launch on Friday this month, South Korean officials said, in apparent retaliation for new sanctions imposed by the United States against its continued testing.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the projectiles were fired in 11 minutes apart from an inland area in the western province of North Pyongan, which is known to have major missile bases and has been the site of other tests in recent years. Is. Year.
The military said the missiles traveled 430 kilometers (267 mi) across the country at a maximum altitude of 36 km (22 mi) before falling into the sea.
Japan’s coast guard called for objects to fall from ships, but Chief Government Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said there were no reports of damage to ships or aircraft.
A few hours ago, Pyongyang issued a statement in which it criticized the United States government for imposing new sanctions against it for its previous missile tests and took stronger and more explicit action if Washington maintains its “confrontational posture”. warned.
Sanctions from the Joe Biden administration selected five North Koreans for their role in obtaining equipment and technology for Pyongyang’s missile programs in response to a missile test earlier this week. Washington also said it would ask the United Nations to impose new sanctions.
The Treasury Department’s announcement came just hours after the North oversaw its leader Kim Jong Un’s successful test of a hypersonic missile on Tuesday, which it said would significantly increase nuclear “war deterrence” from the country.
Tuesday was the second test of North Korea’s alleged hypersonic missile in a week. In recent months, the hermetic nation has intensified tests with new nuclear-capable missiles designed to improve the region’s missile defense systems, while continuing to expand its military capabilities amid stalled diplomacy with Washington .
In a statement carried by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), an unnamed foreign ministry spokesman defended the launch of suspected hypersonic ballistic missiles as a legitimate exercise in self-defense.
According to the spokesman, the new sanctions underscore the hostile intention of the United States to “isolate and suffocate”, despite repeated calls from Washington to resume diplomatic work to Pyongyang, which has been undermined by sanctions. and has been stalled by disagreements on nuclear disarmament measures. ,
The North Korean spokesman also accused the United States of maintaining a “gangster” stance, saying that the development of its new missile is part of efforts to modernize its military and does not target any specific country or protect its neighbors. is not at risk.
“However, the United States is deliberately aggravating the situation even with the activation of independent sanctions, not satisfied with the mention of the proper activity of the DPRK in the UN Security Council,” the spokesman said in an abbreviation of the country’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic. Added using name. of Korea.
“This shows that although the current US government promotes diplomacy and dialogue, it remains engrossed in its policy of isolating and stifling the DPRK…,” he said.
Flying at speeds greater than Mach 5 or more than five times the speed of sound, hypersonic weapons can pose a major challenge to anti-missile systems due to their speed and maneuverability.
The weapons were on a list of military targets that Kim presented early last year with multi-warhead missiles, spy satellites, long-range solid-fuel missiles and submarine-launched nuclear missiles.
Experts say North Korea will need years and more successful long-range tests before a reliable hypersonic system can be found.
The Biden administration has indicated it is ready to resume talks with Pyongyang without any preconditions. But the North has rejected the idea, saying Washington should first withdraw its “hostile policy”, a term used to describe its sanctions and joint maneuvers with the South Korean military. .
For its part, South Korea’s presidential office said National Security Director Suh Hoon and other senior officials have called for an urgent meeting of the National Security Council. In addition, he expressed his “deepest regret” over the continued trials and urged Pyongyang to re-commit to talks.