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North Korea Fires Ballistic Missiles Days After Rocket Fails

North Korea Fires Ballistic Missiles Days After Rocket Fails
An undated photo released by the official North Korean Central News Agency on 14 August 2023 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspecting major munitions factories at an undisclosed location in North Korea. (Photo: EPA-EFE / KCNA)

North Korea fired multiple suspected ballistic missiles on Thursday, just days after leader Kim Jong Un’s space program was dealt a blow when a rocket blew up soon after liftoff.

South Korea’s military detected about a dozen projectiles presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles launched from an area near Pyongyang’s main international airport toward the east from around 06:14 a.m., the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a text message to reporters.

“Our military has strengthened surveillance and vigilance in preparation for additional launches,” the message said, adding South Korea is maintaining full readiness by closely sharing information related to the ballistic missiles with the US and Japanese authorities.

Japan’s Coast Guard said what appears to have been a ballistic missile has fallen. The projectile likely fell outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, national broadcaster NHK reported.

North Korea typically does not comment on missile launches until the day after they take place.

This is the sixth test of ballistic missiles from Kim’s regime this year. North Korea’s last ballistic missile launch took place about two weeks ago when it fired multiple short-range rockets. Just prior to that launch, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of the leader, blasted accusations that North Korea had been sending munitions to Russia made by the US and several of its partners.

Kim Jong Un has pledged to press ahead with his space program after the rocket on a mission to deploy a spy satellite blew apart on Monday. The US, South Korea and Japan have said the technology used for rockets helps Pyongyang’s ballistic missile program and is a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Kim intends to launch three spy satellites in 2024, official media reported after a policy-setting meeting of top officials in the last days of December. The satellites can help him keep an eye on US troops in the region and improve his ability to strike targets as he upgrades his nuclear weapons arsenal.

Read more: North Korea Fires Missiles After Criticizing Weapons Charge

Kim Jong Un also warned South Korea that it was playing with fire by threatening his country’s sovereignty through moves such as air exercises near the border separating the countries. His state sent balloons filled with trash such as batteries, shoe parts and manure into South Korea from Tuesday night and into Wednesday, South Korea’s military said.

Read more: Kim Jong Un Faces Annihilation in Most Korea War Scenarios

The US, South Korea and others have accused North Korea of sending to Russia massive amounts of artillery shells as well as its newest family of short-range nuclear-capable ballistic missiles that are easy to hide and quick to deploy. The munitions are for use in the Kremlin’s war in Ukraine, the US and its partners have said. Pyongyang and Moscow have denied the charges.

South Korean Defense Minister Shin Wonsik has said recent tests of weapons overseen by Kim Jong Un could be part of a demonstration before exporting the arms to Russia for use by President Vladimir Putin for his assault on his neighbor.

Russia, in return, is providing North Korea with food, raw materials and parts used in weapons manufacturing, Shin has said. The food aid has helped Kim stabilize prices for necessities, and if the arms transfers grow, Russia will likely send more military technology to Kim, increasing Pyongyang’s threat to the region, Shin added.

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