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(3rd LD) N. Korea fires off 3 ballistic missiles: JCS

All News 13:04 July 19, 2016

(ATTN: COMBINES related stories; ADDS JCS comments in paras 2-4, defense ministry's condemnation in para 5)

SEOUL, July 19 (Yonhap) -- North Korea fired off three ballistic missiles Tuesday, less than two week after South Korea and the United States agreed to deploy an advanced antimissile system in the country to deal with evolving nuclear and missile threats from the communist country.

The three ballistic missiles, Scud or Rodong types, were launched from Hwangju, North Hwanghae Province, between 5:45 a.m. and 6:40 a.m., with two flying some 500 to 600 kilometers, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) spokesman Jeon Ha-kyu said. The trajectory of one missile still needs to be determined, he added.

"Given the North's firing of three ballistic missiles comes after the decision (by Seoul and Washington early this month) to deploy the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system in Seongju, it can be interpreted as Pyongyang's clear message that it can attack Seongju and any other part of South Korea," the official said.

Jeon said the firings seem to be in line with Pyongyang's earlier threats made last week when it warned of taking "physical action" against Seoul and Washington if the allies finalize their decision on the site for a THAAD battery in South Korea.

Related to the latest missile provocation, the JCS strongly condemned North Korea's "rash" actions, saying such a move could put the country's security and the safety of its people in danger.

The Ministry of National Defense said it is still in the process of finalizing what kind of missiles were fired and the exact altitude of their flight. When the answers are determined, the ministry will provide the details, it said.

The United States Strategic Command said in a statement released earlier in the day that the North launched two Scud tactical ballistic missiles and then one Rodong medium-range ballistic missile.

The missile launch is thought to be part of Pyongyang's response to set up a THAAD battery in the country by late 2017.

It is the latest in a series of missile provocations, including the firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile earlier this month.

The military, meanwhile, said the range of the missiles launched is enough to reach all of South Korea, including the far southern port city of Busan.

South Korea's military emphasized it is "closely watching any military moves" from the North and is fully prepared for additional missile launches.

Scuds have a range of 500 to 700 km and are considered to be shorter-range ballistic missiles compared with Rodong missiles, with a range of 1,300-1,500 km. Rodong missiles are capable of striking as far away as Japan.


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