North Korea has fired two ballistic missiles across its east coast in Wednesday, rivalling North as tensions rise exponentially in what was already one of the most volatile regions on the planet.
Pyongyang was first to fire into two missiles into the watee off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula with only five minutes apart, at 12:38 p.m. and 12:43 p.m. local time (11:38 p.m. and 11:43 p.m. ET), according to Japan’s Coast Guard.
Less than three hours later, Seoul followed, firing a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), the first test in six months.
The SLBM was launched from the submerged 3,700-ton submarine ROKS Dosan Ahn Changho, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said, adding that the missile hit its target accurately, without giving more details.
With the launch, South Korea becomes the seventh military in the world to successfully test and SLBM and the first without nuclear weapons to develop such a system.
The tests, a breach of UN resolutions, came as South Korea and China held meetings in an effort to get the North to resume denuclearisation talks.
Three days ago, Pyongyang first tested long-range missiles which South earlier said it has confirmed and was “conducting detailed analysis in collaboration with the United States for further information,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said in a statement.
The latest volley in an arms race has seen both countries develop increasingly sophisticated weapons while efforts to get talks going on defusing tension prove fruitless.
The launches show the North has continued to develop its weapons despite a severe economic crisis.
Meanwhile, South Korea’s weapons development, including its missile capabilities, has been picking up speed as the country tries to become less dependent on the United States and more wary of the growing missile program in North Korea.
Talks aimed at dismantling nuclear and ballistic missile arsenals in return for U.S. sanctions relief were initiated by former US President, Donald Trump in 2018. But the negotiations, initiated between the U.S and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have since 2019 been at standstill.
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called the missile launches “outrageous” and strongly condemned it as a threat to peace and security in the region.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a daily briefing that China hoped “relevant parties” would “exercise restraint”.