North Korea fired two cruise missiles on Sunday, confirms Seoul
Seoul: South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) has confirmed that North Korea fired two cruise missiles off the West Coast on Sunday, marking Pyongyang's first missile test in about a year seen as testing US President Joe Biden's administration.
"We detected two projectiles presumed to be cruise missiles fired from the North's western port county of Onchon early Sunday," a JCS officer told reporters on Wednesday, reported Yonhap news agency.
He further informed that South Korean and US authorities have been analysing details and closely monitoring moves by North Korea.
"The decision not to announce the recent firings was made jointly with the U.S. side. We are closely monitoring the North Korean military activities, while maintaining a firm joint readiness posture," another JCS officer said.
Pyongyang has maintained silence over the matter.
According to sources, North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un does not appear to have observed the latest firings.
Representative Ha Tae-keung of the main opposition People Power Party (PPP) said in a Facebook post that the launches took place at around 6:36 am on Sunday, adding that South Korea and the US were aware of the firings but decided not to make them public.
Pyongyang has maintained a self-imposed moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile testing since late 2017, according to Yonhap.
Meanwhile, the United States made no big deal out of the firings, with Biden saying "nothing much has changed" and senior administration officials saying the launches were not in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
A senior US administration official characterised the launches as "normal military activity" by North Korea and added that they fell short of the "provocative actions" category, reported Sputnik.
The launches mark the North's first known missile test since April 14, 2020, when it launched multiple short-range cruise missiles into the East Sea on the eve of the late national founder's birthday and South Korea's general elections, reported Yonhap news agency.
The latest test took place three days after South Korea and the US staged their springtime joint military exercise for nine days until Thursday. Pyongyang had launched a strong protest over the exercise and threatened to scrap an inter-Korean military agreement while ignoring the Biden government's offer to resume talks.
Last week, Choe Son-hui, the North's first vice foreign minister, issued a statement and said any contact and dialogue with the US can be possible only when Washington rolls back its "hostile policy" toward it.
US State Secretary Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin had visited South Korea and agreed with their South Korean counterparts to work closely to resolve North Korea's nuclear and missile issues. (ANI)