People walk past a street monitor showing news of North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile test in Tokyo, Japan, July 4, 2017.
Toru Hanai | Reuters
WASHINGTON – North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, the militaries of South Korea and Japan said Wednesday evening.
“We strictly and strongly protest this launch,” Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga told reporters in Tokyo, adding that initial assessments tracked the missiles splashing down just outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
South Korea said its military detected two short-range missiles launched around 7 a.m. local time, the country’s Joint Chief of Staff’s office told NBC News. It added that South Korean and U.S. intelligence agencies were analyzing the matter and gathering detailed information.
A spokesman for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said, the U.S. is monitoring the situation and consulting its allies and partners.
“This activity highlights the threat that North Korea’s illicit weapons program poses to its neighbors and the international community. The U.S. commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad,” said the spokesman, Navy Capt. Mike Kafka.
The White House and Pentagon did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment.
Over the weekend, North Korea conducted its first missile test since the Biden administration took office. Senior administration officials said Tuesday evening on a call with reporters that Pyongyang fired at least one missile. The officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, would not elaborate on what type of weapon was launched, the location of the test, nor its success rate.
The string of tests comes as Pyongyang ignores invitations from Washington to discuss denuclearization and as the U.S. and South Korea resume large, joint military exercises.
Last week, a top North Korean official said Pyongyang will not respond to numerous invitations to restart nuke talks until the United States drops its “hostile policies.”
“We have already declared our stand that no DPRK-U.S. contact and dialogue of any kind can be possible unless the U.S. rolls back its hostile policy towards the DPRK,” said First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui, according to a statement released by state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Under Kim Jong Un, the reclusive state has conducted its most powerful nuclear test, launched its first-ever intercontinental ballistic missile and threatened to send missiles into the waters near the U.S. territory of Guam.
Since 2011, Kim has launched more than 100 missiles and conducted four nuclear weapons tests, which is more than what his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung, launched over a period of 27 years.