North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Thursday, South Korea’s military said, in what Pyongyang had warned would be an “inevitable” response to live fire drills that Seoul’s forces had conducted earlier in the day with U.S. troops.
North Korea’s launch was the latest in a series of launches this year. Last month, it unsuccessfully tried to launch a spy satellite.
The latest North Korea missile launch comes as national security adviser Jake Sullivan is in Tokyo for meetings with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts.
Sullivan met with South Korea's Cho Tae-yong, and Japan's Takeo Akiba, discussing North Korea's missile program and yearslong but futile efforts to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the U.S. sanctioned two Beijing-based North Koreans, Choe Chol Min and his wife, Choe Un Jung, who it said were linked to Pyongyang’s procurement of weapons of mass destruction. The U.S. said the couple worked with Chinese nationals to get materials to help build North Korean missiles and to facilitate the movement of more than a thousand North Korean workers into China to generate income for the Pyongyang regime.
The U.S. Treasury Department said any assets the two North Koreans might hold in the United States have been frozen.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol watched the live-fire drills by several thousand South Korean and U.S. troops in the latest show of force that the allies say is necessary to deter North Korea.
North Korea's Ministry of National Defense said the drills were escalating military tensions in the region and that its forces would sternly respond to "any kind of protests or provocations by enemies."
Pyongyang unsuccessfully tried to launch a spy satellite late last month, its first satellite launch since 2016, with the rocket booster and payload plunging into the sea.
North Korea's ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs are banned by United Nations Security Council resolutions that have sanctioned the country, but U.S. presidents have been unsuccessful in trying to end North Korea’s nuclear threat.
Some information for this report came from The Associated Press, Agence France-Presse and Reuters.