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North Korea Launches At Least Three Ballistic Missiles, South Korea Says
By Staff, Agencies
North Korea launched at least three ballistic missiles toward the sea on Wednesday morning local time, according to South Korea’s military.
All three missiles were fired toward waters off North Korea’s eastern coast one after another between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m., South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the office of Japan's Prime Minister also said, "The Ministry of Defense has reported that a possible ballistic missile has been launched from North Korea."
The latest test marks the 16th time that North Korea has fired its missiles this year, including what the US says was a failed intercontinental ballistic missile test on May 4 that exploded shortly after its launching.
The new launches came after US President Joe Biden’s visit last weekend to South Korea where he and President Yoon Suk Yeol agreed to consider expanding military drills to deter the North’s nuclear threats.
During the visit, Biden indicated that he would be willing to take part in “sincere” and “serious” denuclearization talks with North Korean Leader Kim Jong-un.
“It would depend on whether he was sincere and whether it was serious,” Biden told reporters in Seoul on Saturday when asked under what conditions he would be willing to meet with the North Korean leader.
Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump, held three rare meetings with Kim during his tenure from 2016 to 2020 to accomplish North Korea's complete denuclearization. The attempt failed despite Pyongyang's positive efforts.
Since then, Pyongyang, which has been under crippling international sanctions, conducted several weapons tests, including firing an intercontinental ballistic missile at full range.
Last month, Kim said he would "strengthen and develop" his country’s nuclear forces at the "highest possible" speed.
US military and intelligence agencies assess the North might also be preparing for its first underground nuclear test in nearly five years. The country has not conducted a nuclear test since 2017.
The latest test also comes as the country says its first domestic COVID-19 outbreak is weakening and some observers had already predicted that it would soon resume its missile tests.
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