North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward its east coast, in the direction of Japan, on Thursday, following joint South Korean and U.S. missile drills and the return of a U.S. aircraft carrier to the region in response to the North’s recent missile tests.
The missile launch was the sixth in 12 days and the first since North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan on Tuesday.
The launch was reported by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and the Japanese government.
The Japan Coast Guard said the missiles appeared to have landed already.
“This is the sixth time in the short period just counting the ones from the end of September,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters. “This absolutely cannot be tolerated.”
The launch came about an hour after North Korea condemned the United States for talking to the United Nations Security Council about Pyongyang’s “just counteraction measures of the Korean People’s Army on south Korea-U.S. joint drills.”
In a statement released by the reclusive nation’s Foreign Ministry, North Korea also condemned Washington for repositioning a U.S. aircraft carrier in the waters off the Korean peninsula, saying it posed a serious threat to the stability of the situation.
The USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group of accompanying warships was abruptly redeployed after South Korea and the U.S. military had conducted rare missile drills east of North Korea. This comes in response to North Korea’s IRBM launch over Japan this week, one of the allies’ sharpest reactions since 2017 to a North Korean weapons test.
The United States accused China and Russia on Wednesday of enabling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by blocking attempts to strengthen U.N. Security Council sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.