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N. Korea fires two ballistic missiles toward East Sea Updated: 2021-09-15 13:42:26 KST

North Korea this afternoon test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward the East Sea.
Just last weekend, it launched cruise missiles, which are not banned by sanctions, but these ballistic missiles are.
For more, we have defense ministry correspondent Kim Dami on the line.
Dami, this seems like an escalation by the North.

That's right.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles have been fired at 12:34 and 12:39 this afternoon from North Korea's Yangduk , Pyeongannam-do Province.
They flew some 800 kilometers and reached an altitude of some 60 kilometers.
Since they're launched from inland rather than in a coastal area it's highly likely the weapons have been test-fired before and today's launch is aimed at showing off the North's confidence in its missile capabilities and to test an increase in flight distance of pre-existing weapons.
Just looking at the flight distance and maximum height an expert said there's the possibility that today's test-fire could be the modified version of the KN-23 missile that was fired on March 25th using transporter erected launchers.
As you mentioned, some pundits say this is an escalation of tensions from North Korea.
It held a scaled-down military parade last Thursday to mark the 73rd anniversary of its founding, and followed that with the North's report of cruise missile tests and now this, the firing of ballistic missiles in which unlike the cruise missiles are a violation of United Nations sanctions.
The latest missile launch is the fifth provocation by North Korea this year.
The Blue House said President Moon Jae-in had been immediately notified of the recent North Korean launch he's expected to be briefed in more detail after an emergency National Security Council meeting this afternoon.
Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called the launch an outrage and stated the missiles are presumed to have landed outside Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone.

What impact do you think this will have on efforts to revive the denuclearization talks? The U.S. has called the launch destabilizing.

We'll have to wait and see on the results of the NSC meeting to see whether South Korea will strongly denounce the latest firings as well as whether officials will reveal their assessment of the security situation on the Korean peninsula.
But the latest provocation further puts a dent in the high level of optimism of the South Korean government, which had argued the North had a strong willingness to denuclearize and that the momentum for dialogue could be revived.
We'll also waiting to see how Washington will respond to the latest missile launch and whether the latest launch will serve as a tipping point in its policies directed toward North Korea.
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