North Korea wraps up 2022 by firing three short range ballistic missiles

North Korea has fired three short-range ballistic missiles toward the sea to the east of the Korean peninsula, a news report has claimed. The information was shared by the South Korean military.

The latest missile launches do not pose an immediate threat to the US or its allies, said Washington.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the three short-range ballistic missiles were fired from around 08:00 local time (23:00 GMT) from North Hwanghae Province, south of the capital Pyongyang.

They added: “North Korea’s ballistic missile(s) launch is a grave provocation that undermines peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula as well as the international community.”

The military added that the missiles flew about 350 km (217 miles).

Japan’s coastguard earlier said one missile had fallen into the sea.

The US Indo-Pacific command said it was aware of the missile launches and was “consulting closely with our allies and partners”.

The launches came a day after South Korea’s defence ministry announced it had successfully conducted a test flight of a solid-propellant space launch vehicle.

The latest missile tests follow reports by South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff (JCS) of two ballistic missiles fired from the Tongchang-ri area in North Pyongan province on December 18.

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The JCS said in a statement: “Our military has strengthened surveillance and vigilance while closely cooperating with the United States and maintaining a full readiness posture.”

On Monday, five North Korean drones crossed into South Korea, prompting the South’s military to scramble fighter jets and attack helicopters to try to shoot them down, in the first such intrusion since 2017.

Relations between North Korea and US ally South Korea have grown more tense since South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol’s conservative government took over in May, promising a tougher stance towards the North.

Not counting Saturday’s launches, North Korea has fired around 70 ballistic missiles this year, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported, including about eight intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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