North Korea launches a barrage of missiles after the United States and South Korea conduct exercises

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea fired eight short-range ballistic missiles toward the sea off its east coast on Sunday, a day after South Korea and the United States concluded their first joint military exercises between a U.S. aircraft carrier in more than a year. of four years.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles were launched from the Sunan area in the North’s capital, Pyongyang.

Japan’s Kyodo news agency said, quoting a government source, that North Korea fired several missiles.

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The launch followed a visit by the US official for North Korea affairs, US Special Representative Sung Kim, who departed on Saturday, to Seoul.

He met his South Korean and Japanese counterparts Kim Gan and Takehiro Funakoshi on Friday to prepare for “all emergencies” amid indications North Korea is preparing to conduct a nuclear test for the first time since 2017. Read more

During the visit that concluded on Sunday, Kim said that Washington has made very direct to Pyongyang that it is open to diplomacy, indicating that he is willing to discuss items of interest to Pyongyang, such as easing sanctions.

Last week, the United States called for more United Nations sanctions against North Korea over its ballistic missile launches, but China and Russia objected to the proposal, publicly dividing the United Nations Security Council over North Korea for the first time since it began sanctioning it in 2006, when North Korea conducted its first nuclear test.

In recent weeks, North Korea has conducted test-fires of a range of missiles, including the largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

North Korea’s last test was on May 25, when it launched three missiles after US President Joe Biden ended his trip to Asia where he agreed to new measures to deter the nuclear-armed nation.

South Korean officials said at the time that the first missile appeared to be North Korea’s largest ICBM, the Hwasong-17, while an unidentified second missile appeared to have failed mid-flight. The third missile is a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM).

South Korean and US ships on Saturday concluded a three-day drill in international waters off the Japanese island of Okinawa, including air defense, anti-ship and anti-submarine operations, and maritime interdiction operations, the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The exercises included the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, among other major warships.

South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol, who took office on May 10, agreed with Biden to increase bilateral military exercises to deter North Korea.

North Korea has been criticized for past joint exercises as an example of Washington’s continuing “hostile policies” toward Pyongyang, despite its talk of diplomacy.

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(Reporting by Byung Wook Kim and Josh Smith) Editing by Leslie Adler, Lisa Shumaker and Raju Gopalakrishnan

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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