North Korea fired several missiles into the Pacific Ocean near Japan on Thursday, including at least one intercontinental ballistic missile, South Korean officials said.
“This morning, our military detected the firing of one long-range ballistic missile from Sunan area in Pyongyang toward East Sea, and two short-range ballistic missiles from Kaechon in South Pyongan Province toward the East Sea,” said Kim Joon-rak, South Korea’s Chief Of Public Affairs In Joint Chief Of Staff, during a news conference in Seoul, Reuters reported.
The United States swiftly condemned the launch in a pair of statements from the White House and the State Department.
“The President and his national security team are assessing the situation in close coordination with our allies and partners,” said National Security Council Spokesperson Adrienne Watson. “The United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and Republic of Korea and Japanese allies.”
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“The United States condemns the DPRK’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch,” said State Department Spokesperson Ned Price, referring to North Korea by its officially recognized name: the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Price also said the continued launches point to negligence by North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un to follow international laws.
“This launch is a clear violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions and demonstrates the threat the DPRK’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs pose to its neighbors, the region, international peace and security, and the global non-proliferation regime,” he said.
Price added: “This action underscores the need for all countries to fully implement DPRK related UN Security Council resolutions, which are intended to prohibit the DPRK from acquiring the technologies and materials needed to carry out these destabilizing tests.”
The Thursday launches come the day after North Korea fired at least 23 missiles on Wednesday, a single-day record.
Japanese officials said the ICBM may have failed during the flight and broke up over the Sea of Japan before hitting its intended target, correcting a previous statement by the Japanese administration that the ICBM flew directly over Japan.
The failed ICBM launch would be the latest failure for North Korea, which has remained unable to successfully develop a nuclear-capable missile system.
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The U.S. also discouraged North Korea from any further launches, including a potential seventh nuclear test, which Price said would be a “dangerous, reckless, destabilizing act.”
“Together, with the international community, we call on the DPRK to refrain from further provocations and engage in sustained and substantive dialogue,” the statement read. “Our commitments to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remain ironclad.”
The volatile launch prompted the Japanese government to issue evacuation and shelter-in-place orders Thursday morning, according to Reuters.
North Korea blamed Wednesday’s launches on the U.S. and alleged “grave military provocations.” They also came hours after North Korea said it would use nuclear weapons against the U.S. and South Korea to force them to “pay the most horrible price in history.”
One of Wednesday’s missiles landed particularly close to South Korea.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has spoken with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin over the launches.
The Associated Press and Reuters contributed to this report.