North Korea launches flurry of ballistic missiles into East Sea

North Korea launched around 10 short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea on Thursday morning, South Korea’s military said. Photo by Yonhap

May 29 (UPI) — North Korea fired around ten short-range ballistic missiles toward the East Sea early Thursday morning, Seoul’s military said, one day after floating hundreds of balloons carrying trash and manure across the inter-Korean border.

South Korea’s military detected the launch from the Sunan area near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang at 6:14 a.m., the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a message to reporters. The missiles traveled around 217 miles before splashing down in the waters east of the Peninsula.

“Our military immediately detected, tracked, and monitored the North Korean missile launches and closely shared related information with the U.S. and Japan,” the JCS said.

“We strongly condemn North Korea’s missile launch as a clear provocation that seriously threatens peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” it added.

Hawaii-based U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said it was aware of the launch and is consulting with South Korea and Japan.

“The United States condemns these actions and calls on the DPRK to refrain from further unlawful and destabilizing acts,” the command said in a statement. “While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel, or territory, or to our allies, we continue to monitor the situation.”

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.

Japan’s Defense Ministry announced that it had detected the launch, saying that the missiles had landed outside the waters of the country’s exclusive economic zone.

North Korea also conducted a GPS jamming attack for a second day, the JCS said in a separate message.

The South’s military detected the signal near the de facto inter-Korean maritime border in the Yellow Sea on Thursday morning, the JCS said. The jamming attempt lasted for about an hour and did not impact military operations, it added.

The missile launch comes a day after the North sent hundreds of balloons carrying trash and manure into South Korea, in what it called a “tit-for-tat” retaliation for activists floating leaflets across the border from the South.

Earlier this week, Pyongyang attempted to place its second spy satellite into orbit but failed when a newly developed rocket engine exploded in flight.

On Thursday, North Korea pushed back against condemnation of the attempted satellite launch by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, who called it a violation of Security Council resolutions.

“We will never tolerate any moves of the hostile forces to violate the inviolable sphere under the exercise of sovereignty nor step back from having access to the space reconnaissance capability which should be done surely no matter what others may say,” North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Kim Son Gyong said in a statement carried by official media.

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