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(2nd LD) N. Korea fires 3 unidentified projectiles toward East Sea: JCS

All Headlines 08:47 March 09, 2020

(ATTN: ADDS background in paras 4, 6-8)
By Oh Seok-min and Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, March 9 (Yonhap) -- North Korea fired three unidentified projectiles into the East Sea on Monday, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, a week after the communist regime fired two short-range projectiles.

The projectiles were fired northeastward from areas near its eastern town of Sondok in South Hamgyong Province, the JCS said in a brief release. Other details, including their type, flight range and altitude, were not immediately available.

"Our military is monitoring the situation in case of additional launches and maintaining a readiness posture," the JCS said.

Sondok is where the North conducted the first known test of its super-large multiple rocket launcher in August. Last year, the North test-launched missiles 13 times amid the stalled denuclearization talks with the United States.

Last Monday, the communist country fired two projectiles from a super-large multiple rocket launcher after a three-month hiatus. It was believed to be part of its artillery strike drill for the wintertime exercise.

Pyongyang could have tested the super-large multiple rocket launcher system again, possibly to reduce the firing intervals for operational deployment.

The latest firings came just five days after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un sent a personal letter to President Moon Jae-in and wished him and other South Koreans good health amid the massive outbreak of the novel coronavirus.

Such a conciliatory gesture came as a surprise as Kim's younger sister, Kim Yo-jong, had issued a statement just the previous day blasting Moon's office as "gangster-like" and "foolish" for complaining about Pyongyang's recent projectile launches.

In its New Year's Day message, Pyongyang warned it will show off a "new strategic weapon" in the near future. Experts said the "strategic weapon" may mean an advanced type of its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM).

A projectile is launched during a long-range artillery drill by the North Korean army's long-range artillery sub-units on March 2, 2020, in this photo released by the North's official Korean Central News Agency the next day. North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected the drill. The report came one day after South Korea said the North fired what appeared to be two ballistic missiles. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

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