North Korea fires launches multiple ballistic missiles into sea ahead of South Korea-Japan summit
North Korea launched another suspected ballistic missile, Japanese officials said Thursday, local time, hours before a planned summit between South Korea and Japanese leaders.
The office of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida tweeted about the launch. A follow-up tweet said the government was ensuring the safety "of aircraft, vessels, & other assets" and taking all possible measures "for precaution, incl. readiness for contingencies."
The South Korean military said the missile was fired toward the East Sea. The launch came hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Kishida were slated to meet in Tokyo to discuss various issues.
It also came amid the ongoing South Korea-U.S. Freedom Shield (FS) exercise, which the North has decried as "preparations for a war of aggression" against it, South Korean Yonhap news agency reported.
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The White House strongly condemned the launch.
"This launch is a flagrant violation of multiple UN Security Council resolutions. While U.S. INDOPACOM has assessed it did not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel, or territory, or to our allies, this launch needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing the security situation in the region," National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson wrote in a statement.
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Watson said the launch demonstrates that North Korea is prioritizing its "unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs over the well-being of its people."
She urged other countries to condemn North Korea's actions and encourage them to engage in "serious dialogue."
"The United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and Republic of Korea and Japanese allies," Watson concluded.
On Tuesday, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles, which landed off the country’s east coast, officials said.