North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea Thursday, its latest salvo in a series of provocative actions that are ratcheting up tensions on the divided peninsula.
The projectiles flew 500 kilometers off its east coast city of Wonsan, Reuters reports, citing the South Korean military.
North Korea has a large stockpile of short-range missiles and is developing long-range and intercontinental missiles.
The missile launches coincided with already heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula after the North conducted its fourth nuclear test in January and fired a long-range rocket last month, leading to new sanctions from the United Nations and the United States.
The North fired six rockets into the sea last week using a multiple launch rocket system from Wonsan, watched by leader Kim Jong-un who ordered his military to be prepared to launch pre-emptive attacks against enemies.
Kim said on Wednesday his country has successfully miniaturised nuclear warheads that can be mounted on ballistic missiles.
US State Department spokesman John Kirby declined to comment on Kim’s claim to have miniaturised nuclear warheads and accused him of “provocative rhetoric.”
“I’d say the young man needs to pay more attention to the North Korean people and taking care of them than in pursuing these sorts of reckless capabilities,” Kirby said.
The Pentagon said this week it had not seen North Korea demonstrate a capability to miniaturize a nuclear warhead. But Captain Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, said the department was working on US ballistic missile defences to be prepared.
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