Two Short Range Ballistic Missiles test launched by Military

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Two Short Range Ballistic Missiles test launched by Military

SEOUL: South Korea's military claimed on Monday that Pyongyang fired two short-range ballistic missiles, the launch comes weeks after North Korea threatened to demonstrate a "new strategic weapon" and its deadline for Washington to offer sanctions relief expired.

The launch was the nuclear-armed North's first for more than three months and came as nuclear negotiations with the United States remain at a standstill.

The two devices were fired eastwards over the sea from the Wonsan area on the east coast and flew 240 kilometres at a maximum altitude of 35 kilometres, the South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

They were "believed to be short-range ballistic missiles," a JCS official said.

South Korea's security ministers expressed "strong concern" the North was "carrying out actions giving rise to military tensions", the presidential Blue House said.

Japan's defence ministry said there was no indication of anything coming down in its waters or exclusive economic zone, but added: "Recent repeated launches of ballistic and other missiles by North Korea are a serious issue."

The launch came as Pyongyang battles to prevent a coronavirus outbreak and days after the one-year anniversary of the collapsed Hanoi summit between leader Kim Jong Un and US President Donald Trump.

Negotiations have since been deadlocked over sanctions relief and what the North would be willing to give up in return, despite a high-profile June meeting in the Demilitarized Zone that divides the peninsula.

Pyongyang carried out a series of weapons tests late last year, the last of them in November, often describing them as multiple launch rocket systems. It also carried out static engine tests, most recently in December.

At a party meeting at the end of that month, Kim declared that Pyongyang no longer considered itself bound by its moratoriums on nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile tests, and threatened to demonstrate a "new strategic weapon" soon.

North Korea has a long history of seeking to demonstrate its military capability to try to obtain concessions.

"March is pretty reliably missile-testing season for North Korea," tweeted Ankit Panda, senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists. - APP / AFP

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