By The Associated Press on December 17, 2023.
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea fired a second ballistic missile into the sea off its east coast Monday, the South Korean military said.
The South Korean military said in a statement only that the launch was made Monday morning, and gave no further details, such as how far the weapon flew.
Japan’s Defense Ministry also said it detected a suspected ballistic missile launch by North Korea.
The launch came hours after South Korea reported North Korea conducting a short-range ballistic missile test into the sea in a resumption of its weapons testing activities in about a month.
Observers said the North’s back-to-back launches were likely a protest against the moves by South Korea and the United States to bolster their nuclear deterrence plans in the face of North Korea’s evolving nuclear threats.
Senior U.S. and South Korean officials met in Washington over the weekend and agreed to update their nuclear deterrence and contingency strategies and incorporate nuclear operation scenarios in their combined military exercises next summer.
On Sunday, North Korea’s Defense Ministry slammed its rivals’ move to include nuclear operation scenarios in their joint drills, describing it as an open threat to potentially use nuclear weapons against the North. It vowed to prepare unspecified “offensive countermeasures.”
Animosities between the two Koreas deepened after North Korea launched its first military reconnaissance satellite into space Nov. 21 in violation of U.N. bans.
South Korea, the U.S. and Japan strongly condemned the launch, viewing it as an attempt by the North to improve its missile technology as well as establish a space-based surveillance system.
South Korea announced plans to resume front-line aerial surveillance in response. North Korea quickly retaliated by restoring border guard posts, officials in Seoul said. Both steps would breach a 2018 inter-Korean deal on easing front-line military tensions.