August 24, 2019
Seoul--North Korea fired two projectiles presumed to be short-range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Saturday morning, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.
One of them was launched around 6:44 a.m. (9:44 p.m. Friday GMT) and the other around 7:01 a.m. from around Sondok, South Hamgyong Province, in the eastern region of North Korea.
North Korea is believed to be testing the security cooperation among Japan, South Korea and the United States, which has been shaken by Seoul's intent to terminate its military intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo, conveyed to Japan on Friday.
The projectiles traveled 400 and 350 kilometers, respectively. They reached an altitude of 97 kilometers, with their maximum speed exceeding Mach 6.5.
The Japanese government hopes to share related information with South Korea under the pact in question, the General Security of Military Information Agreement, or GSOMIA, which remains valid units its expiration in November.
The South Korean military is ready to share information with Japan under the pact, informed sources said.
In Tokyo, Japanese Defense Minister Takeshi Iwaya said the missiles did not fall into his country's exclusive economic zones.
The launches of the projectiles "clearly violate U.N. Security Council resolutions," Iwaya said. "We cannot overlook this, regardless of their size and type."
Japan determined the projectiles were missiles and lodged a protest with North Korea.
A senior U.S. government official said Washington is aware of reports on the launches and continuing a close watch on the situation.
The official added that the United States is having close consultation with its East Asian allies, Japan and South Korea.
Saturday's launches were the seventh round of projectile firing by North Korea since July 25, when the country resumed such acts.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expressed his intention to stop missile launches after Tuesday's end of U.S.-South Korea joint military drills in a recent letter to U.S. President Donald Trump.
But on Friday, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said his country is ready for both dialogue and confrontation, criticizing U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for his remark that sanctions against Pyongyang will be maintained.
Trump shrugged off the latest launches. He told reporters in Washington on Friday local time that many countries conduct short-range missile tests. Jiji Press
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