North Korea has fired what is believed to be two short-range ballistic missiles -its third weapons launch this month, officials in South Korea have said.
The move, which has been condemned by the UK Foreign Office, is an apparent reprisal against sanctions imposed by President Joe Biden’s administration for continuing test launches.
South Korea‘s joint chiefs of staff said the missiles were fired 11 minutes apart from an area in western North Pyongan province.
The missiles flew 267 miles across the country, at an altitude of 22 miles, before landing in the sea.
The UK condemned the move, calling it a threat to regional peace and urging Pyongyang to refrain from further provocation.
“It is critical that sanctions which target the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) DPRK’s unlawful weapons development remain in place while its programmes exist,” a spokeswoman for the Foreign Office said.
“We urge North Korea to refrain from further provocations, and to return to dialogue with the US.”
America’s Secretary of State Antony Blinken reaffirmed his country’s commitment to the defence of South Korea in a call with their foreign minister on Friday.
Hours earlier, ahead of the launch, 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”.
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The sanctions targeted five North Koreans over their roles in obtaining equipment and technology for the North’s missile programmes in response to the North’s missile test this week. Washington also said it would seek new 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”.