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N. Korea fires two ballistic missiles towards East Sea Updated: 2021-09-15 17:06:14 KST

North Korea test-fired two ballistic missiles on Wednesday afternoon toward the East Sea.
For more, we have defense ministry correspondent Kim Dami on the line.
Dami, this seems like an escalation by the North?

That's right.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles have been fired at 12:34 and 12:39 this afternoon from North Korea's Yangduk , Pyeongannam-do Province.
They flew some 800 kilometers and reached an altitude of some 60 kilometers.
Since they're launched from inland rather than in a coastal area it's highly likely the weapons have been test-fired before and today's launch is aimed at showing off the North's confidence in its missile capabilities and to test an increase in flight distance of pre-existing weapons.
Just looking at the flight distance and maximum height an expert said there's the possibility that today's test-fire could be the modified version of the KN-23 missile that was fired on March 25th using transporter erected launchers.
As you mentioned, some pundits say this is an escalation of tensions from North Korea.
It held a scaled-down military parade last Thursday to mark the 73rd anniversary of its founding, and followed that with the North's report of cruise missile tests and now this, the firing of ballistic missiles in which unlike the cruise missiles are a violation of United Nations sanctions.
The latest missile launch is the fifth provocation by North Korea this year.

"After the military parade, North Korea is trying to escalate tensions by showing its new weapons. Although the North has developed nuclear weapons, its delivery of nuclear warheads is still incomplete. So through such launches, it's trying to gain the upper hand in negotiations with other countries by improving its delivery systems."

Meanwhile, Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called the launch an outrage and stated the missiles are presumed to have landed outside Japan's Exclusive Economic Zone.

How do you think today's firing will impact Washington amid stalled denuclearization talks?

The latest provocation further puts a dent in the high level of optimism of the South Korean government, which had argued the North had a strong willingness to denuclearize and that the momentum for dialogue could be revived.
We'll also waiting to see how Washington will respond to the latest missile launch and whether the latest launch will serve as a tipping point in its policies directed toward North Korea.
Back to you.
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