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North Korea resumes ballistic missile launches after one-year hiatus

North Korea launched what appeared to be two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) into the East Sea (also known as Sea of Japan) on 25 March, marking the Northeast Asian country’s first ballistic missile launches in about a year.

The SRBMs, the exact type of which has yet to be revealed, were launched from the country’s eastern Hamju County in South Hamgyong Province at 07.06 h and 07.25 h (local time), flew about 450 km, and reached an altitude of 60 km, according to information provided by South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

South Korea’s presidential office, known as Cheong Wa Dae, convened an emergency National Security Council meeting and expressed “deep concern” that the missile launches came amid a US policy review on North Korea.

The Japanese government said the missiles were launched from an area near North Korea’s coastal town of Sondok at 07.04 h and 07.23 h (local time), with one of them flying about 420 km and the other 430 km before falling into waters outside Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone. The Ministry of Defense in Tokyo said both missiles flew at an altitude of “less than 100 km, which is lower than that of ‘Scud’[-type] missiles”.

Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga referred to the launches as “a threat to the peace and security of Japan and the region”, adding that his country “firmly protests the launch, which is a violation of UN Security Council resolutions” on North Korea.

Pyongyang’s state-run media has yet to report about or release images of the missile launches.

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