North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Friday, days after U.S. and South Korean warplanes conducted military drills that Pyongyang views as a provocation.
North Korea has conducted an unprecedented number of nuclear-capable missile tests this year, and recently claimed to have performed tests on a more mobile intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.
On Monday the North Korea said it had fired a test satellite in a final stage for its first spy satellite.
South Korea’s military detected the two missile launches from North Korea’s capital region at around 4:32pm on Friday. Japan said it also confirmed at least one missile launch by North Korea.
It wasn’t immediately clear exactly what kinds of missiles North Korea fired. South Korea’s military said the missiles traveled about 155 miles and 220 miles respectively before landing in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.
Japanese Vice Defense Minister Toshiro Ino noted that one missile might have shown an “irregular” trajectory—a possible reference to North Korea’s highly maneuverable, nuclear-capable KN-23 missile, which was modeled on Russia’s Iskander missile.
South Korea’s military called the launches “a grave provocation” that hurts international peace.
The North Korea’s missile fires may have been sparked by recent drills by the U.S. and South Korea, which included flights by B-52 nuclear-capable bombers and F-22 stealth fighter jets.
Earlier this month, the Pentagon activated U.S. Space Forces Korea at South Korea’s Osan Air Base near Seoul, in order to better monitor rival nations North Korea, China and Russia.