North Korea reportedly fired two ballistic missiles off its east coast Wednesday, in the direction of Japan, prompting Japan’s prime minister to denounce the action as “absolutely outrageous,” according to reports.
The latest missile firings by North Korea came several days after it reportedly tested newly developed long-range missiles over the weekend, reports said.
“The firings threaten the peace and safety of Japan and the region and are absolutely outrageous,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said, according to The Associated Press. “The government of Japan is determined to further step up our vigilance and surveillance to be prepared for any contingencies.”
“The government of Japan is determined to further step up our vigilance and surveillance to be prepared for any contingencies.”
The Associated Press initially reported that only one projectile had been fired and did not identify it as a ballistic missile, but updated its story around 1:20 a.m. ET Wednesday, claiming as Yonhap did that two ballistic missiles had been fired.
Japan’s coast guard said both projectiles landed in international waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula, the AP reported.
According to the AP, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the North Korean projectile flew toward the waters of the Korean Peninsula’s east coast on Wednesday. It gave no further details.
Wednesday’s development followed reports Monday of North Korean missile tests that occurred over last weekend – tests that ended a yearlong pause in the nation’s testing of projectiles, the AP reported.
North Korea said Monday it tested a newly developed cruise missile twice over the weekend. North Korea’s state media described the missile as a “strategic weapon of great significance,” implying they were developed with the intent to arm them with nuclear warheads.
Many experts say the North Korean test suggested North Korea is pushing to bolster its weapons arsenal amid a deadlock in nuclear diplomacy between Pyongyang and Washington.
The latest launch came as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was in Seoul for meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and other senior officials to discuss the stalled nuclear diplomacy with the North.
Moon said South Korea’s government plans to hold an unscheduled national security council meeting later Wednesday, the AP reported.
Talks between the United States and North Korea have stalled since 2019, when the Americans rejected the North’s demand for major sanctions relief in exchange for dismantling an aging nuclear facility. Kim’s government has so far rejected the Biden administration’s overtures for dialogue, demanding that Washington abandon its “hostile” policies first.
The North’s resumption of testing activity is likely an attempt at pressuring the Biden administration over the diplomatic freeze after Kim failed to leverage his arsenal for economic benefits during the presidency of Donald Trump.
The Associated Press contributed to this story.