North Korea launches two possible 'ballistic missiles' into sea, Japan
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[October 31, 2019]
By Josh Smith
SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korea fired two
projectiles, which Japanese authorities said appeared to be ballistic
missiles, into the sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan on
Thursday, according to the Japanese coast guard and South Korea's
The first of two "unidentified projectiles" was fired on Thursday at
4:35 p.m. local time (0735 GMT) from South Phyongan Province, in the
center of the country, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in
a series of statements. A second projectile was detected at 4:38 p.m.
The projectiles traveled an estimated 370 kilometers (230 miles) and
reached an altitude of 90 kilometers (56 miles), the JCS said, calling
them "short range".
Japanese authorities said they had landed outside Japan's Exclusive
Economic Zone (EEZ), which extends 200 nautical miles (370 kilometers)
"Objects that appeared to be ballistic missiles were launched from North
Korea," Japan's defense ministry said in a statement. "They did not land
within our territory."
The American air base at Misawa, 700 miles (1,127 km) north of Tokyo,
posted a "real world missile alert" and urged personnel to seek shelter,
before later issuing an "all clear".
The afternoon launch timing was a departure from this year's string of
tests, which usually took place around dawn.
It also occurred on the day that South Korean President Moon Jae-in
attended the funeral of his mother, who died on Tuesday.
In a message delivered via the border village of Panmunjom late on
Wednesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un had expressed "deep
condolences" and "consolation" over Moon's loss, Moon's office said on
On Wednesday, South Korea's Yonhap news agency cited an unnamed military
source who said that movements of transporter erector launchers (TEL),
used to fire missiles, had been detected in North Korea.
South Korea's National Security Council held an emergency meeting after
the launch on Thursday, and expressed its concern about what it called
"Our military is maintaining a readiness posture while tracking and
monitoring related developments in preparation for another launch," the
JCS said in a statement after the launches on Thursday.
The JCS called on North Korea to stop the launches because they were
"unhelpful" for reducing tensions on the peninsula.
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People watch a TV broadcast showing a file footage for a news report
on North Korea firing two projectiles, possibly missiles, into the
sea between the Korean peninsula and Japan, in Seoul, South Korea,
October 31, 2019. REUTERS/Heo Ran
Kim Dong-yup, a former navy officer who teaches at Seoul's Kyungnam
University, said the launches could be a so-called "running test
fire" of a recently developed multiple-rocket system, with the aim
of fine-tuning the system for full production.
Relations between the two Koreas have cooled since a flurry of
personal meetings between Moon and Kim last year, and
denuclearization negotiations between North Korea and the United
States appear stalled.
On Sunday, North Korea said there had been no progress in North
Korea-United States relations.
Kim has set an end-of-the-year deadline for denuclearization talks
with Washington, and in the Sunday statement a senior North Korean
official said it would be a mistake for the United States to ignore
North Korea has tested several new missile designs this year,
including a new submarine-launched ballistic missile fired from a
platform in the sea on Oct. 2.
It says the missiles are necessary to defend against new warplanes
and weapons acquired by South Korea, including the advanced F-35
stealth fighter jet.
North Korea has also accused the United States and South Korea of
continuing hostile policies, including military drills.
On Monday, South Korea began its annual Hoguk military exercises,
which it says are for self defense.
North Korean state media, however, blasted the drill as practice for
invading the North, and said "South Korean military warmongers are
driving the situation into an extreme one."
American officials have played down recent tests, saying they were
Experts have said several of the new missiles tested this year by
North Korea are designed to potentially evade missile defense
systems deployed in South Korea and Japan.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin, Joyce Lee, and Josh Smith in Seoul, and
Ritsuko Ando and Tim Kelly in Tokyo. Writing by Josh Smith. Editing
by Gerry Doyle and Catherine Evans)
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