North Korea has fired two ballistic missiles, South Korea’s military said on Wednesday, amid fears over the state’s nuclear capabilities.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called the ballistic missile launch “outrageous”, and strongly condemned the action as a threat to peace and security of the region.
Japan’s coast guard said the projectile appeared to have landed outside the country’s ‘exclusive economic zone.’
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that they and US intelligence authorities were analysing more details about the launches.
The statement read: “North Korea fired two unidentified ballistic missiles from its central inland region toward the east coast, and intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States are conducting detailed analysis for further information.”
The South Korean military has raised its level of surveillance, and is maintaining a ‘full readiness posture’ in close cooperation with the US, the JCS added.
No ships or aircraft have been reported damaged after the objects fell in the waters between Japan and the Korean Peninsula.
The country, which neighbours the secretive state, will convene a national security council meeting over the missile launches.
The launch from the east coast came after North Korea said it successfully tested a new long-range cruise missile last weekend, calling it “a strategic weapon of great significance.”
Analysts say the missile could be the country’s first such weapon with a nuclear capability.
Pyongyang has been steadily developing its weapons programme amid a standoff over talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in return for US sanctions relief.
The negotiations have stalled since 2019.
Earlier this week North Korea said it had successfully completed a test-fire for a new type of long-range cruise missile.
According to state media on Monday the missile flew 930 miles before hitting its target.
The weapons landed into the country’s own territorial waters with tests carried out on Saturday and Sunday, according to KCNA.
It was seen as the North’s first missile launch after it tested a new tactical short-range ballistic missile in March.
North Korea also conducted a cruise missile test just hours after US President Joe Biden took office in late January.
Biden’s administration had previously said it is open to diplomacy to achieve North Korea’s denuclearisation, but has shown no willingness to ease sanctions.
Sung Kim, the U.S. envoy for North Korea, said in August in Seoul that he was ready to meet with North Korean officials “anywhere, at any time.”
A reactivation of inter-Korean hotlines in July raised hopes for a restart of the negotiations, but the North stopped answering calls as annual South Korea-US military exercises began last month, which Pyongyang had warned could trigger a security crisis.
The secretive state celebrated its 73rd year since since its foundation last week, with a newly-slim Kim Jong-un making a rare public appearance watching thousands of his troops march in Pyongyang.