North Korea fired three ballistic missiles toward the North’s eastern waters Saturday morning, South Korea’s military said.
It’s the first missile launch by North Korea, and comes five days after South Korea accused Pyongyang into South Korea’s airspace for the first time since 2017.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that it detected three short-range ballistic missiles launched from North Korea into the East Sea at about 8 a.m. local time Saturday.
North Koreamore than 70 ballistic and cruise missiles this year. Some experts say North Korea is seeking to modernize its arsenal and increase its leverage in future dealings with the United States.
South Korean warplanes and helicopters failed to bring down any of the North Korean drones spotted south of the border before they flew back home or vanished from South Korean radar. One of them traveled as far as northern Seoul. That caused security jitters among many people in the South, for which the military offered a rare public apology Tuesday.
The launch came as North Korea is under a major ruling party meeting in Pyongyang to review past policies and new policy goals for 2023. Some observers say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would reaffirm his vow to expand his nuclear arsenal and introduce sophisticated weapons in the name of dealing with what he calls U.S. hostility.
There have been concerns that North Korea might conduct its first nuclear test in five years. In late October, U.S. and South Korean officialsthat Pyongyang is preparing to test an atomic weapon soon, in what would be its first nuclear test since 2017.
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