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

North Korea 08:55 March 25, 2021

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; UPDATES throughout with more details, background)
By Choi Soo-hyang

SEOUL, March 25 (Yonhap) -- North Korea fired two unidentified projectiles into the East Sea on Thursday, the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, amid reports they could be ballistic missiles banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The projectiles were fired from the North's eastern South Hamgyong Province earlier in the morning, according to the military. Other details, including what type of projectile was launched, were not immediately available.

"Further information is under analysis by South Korea-U.S. intelligence authorities," the JCS said in a statement. "Our military is keeping a staunch readiness posture under a close South Korea-U.S. coordination with heightened monitoring and security."

Japanese and U.S. media reported that the latest projectiles appear to be ballistic missiles.

North Korea last fired a ballistic missile in March 2020.

Thursday's launches mark a gradual ratcheting up of tensions by the North as they came four days after the country fired two cruise missiles into the Yellow Sea.

The United States brushed off the cruise missile launches as part of "normal testing" not banned under U.N. sanctions resolutions, with President Joe Biden saying, "Nothing much has changed."

The U.S. reaction to the latest launches was not immediately available.

While cruise missiles are not banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions on North Korea, ballistic missiles are subject to the international sanctions. Pyongyang has maintained a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing since late 2017.

Ballistic missiles have a much longer range than cruise missiles of the same size and move quickly along their flight path. Ballistic missiles are also deemed more threatening, as they are designed to deliver nuclear weapons.

The latest launch also came as the Biden administration was completing its North Korea policy review.

North Korea's First Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son-hui said last week any contact and dialogue with the U.S. can be possible only when Washington rolls back its "hostile policy" toward it.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un held three meetings with former U.S. President Donald Trump, but denuclearization talks remain stalled since the collapse of their Hanoi summit in February 2019.

The U.S. is scheduled to hold a security meeting with South Korea and Japan next week to discuss how to deal with issues involving North Korea.

This photo captured from the homepage of the Korean Central News Agency on March 22, 2020, shows the launch of a newly developed tactical weapon at an undisclosed location in North Korea the previous day. (For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution) (Yonhap)

scaaet@yna.co.kr
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