North Korea on Wednesday fired two ballistic missiles into the sea, according to the South Korean military.
Hours later, South Korea said President Moon Jae-in observed Seoul’s first underwater-launched missile test on Wednesday afternoon.
The South’s missile, fired from a 3,000-ton-class submarine, flew a previously set distance before hitting a designated target, the presidential Blue House said.
The tests come as China’s foreign minister visits Seoul to hold talks about Pyongyang’s recent testing of new long-range cruise missiles.
The two “unidentified ballistic missiles” were launched from a site in central North Korea, toward the waters of the Korean Peninsula’s east coast on Wednesday afternoon, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
“South Korean and US intelligence agencies are conducting detailed analysis,” they added, without immediately giving details of the missiles’ range.
If Wednesday’s test were confirmed as a ballistic missile, it would be Pyongyang’s first since March this year and a further violation of UN sanctions.
Japan’s coast guard said the missiles landed outside Japanese economic waters.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called the missile launch “outrageous” and condemned it as a threat to peace and security in the region.
The launch came as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi held talks with his South Korean counterpart over the North’s recent missile test and stalled denuclearization negotiations between Pyongyang and Washington
Wang also met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
Before the news of the missile launch emerged, Wang expressed hope that all countries would maintain “peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”
Moon Jae-in told Wang Yi that he appreciates Beijing’s role in the push to resolve the North Korean nuclear standoff
“For example, not only the North, but also other countries are engaging in military activities,” he was quoted as saying by Yonhap news agency. “Having said this, we all have to work together toward the resumption of dialogue.”
Pyongyang’s launch comes days after the North successfully tested new long-range cruise missiles.
North Korea is not banned from developing cruise missiles, which it has tested in the past.
According to state-run KCNA, the missiles fired at the weekend flew about 1,500 km (932 miles) — a distance capable of reaching all of Japan and US military installations in the region.
The North ended a yearlong pause of testing ballistic missiles in March this year.
The latest tests are seen as an attempt to pressure the United States, under President Joe Biden, amid stalled nuclear talks.
Negotiations have been put on ice since the collapse of the 2019 Hanoi summit between the North’s leader Kim Jong-un and then US President Donald Trump.
fb, adi/sms (AFP, AP, Reuters)