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North Korea launched two ballistic missiles, U.S., Japanese officials say


North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan Thursday, a U.S. official and Japan’s prime minister said.

A U.S. official told NBC News Wednesday evening they were most likely short-range ballistic missiles. Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, told reporters that the projectiles were ballistic missiles and that the action marked the first such provocation in a year.

The test “threatens the peace and security of the region and our nation. It is also against the UN resolution,” he said. “We strictly and strongly protest this launch.”

He added, “The government’s understanding is that the missile landed outside our exclusive economic zone — this has been confirmed — however, we will still need to remain vigilant. We have convened a National Security Council to assess the situation and are working with the United States and South Korea to protect the lives and the peaceful livelihoods of our citizens. “

In a statement via text message, the office of the South Korean joint chiefs of staff confirmed that two projectiles were launched.

The projectiles were from the South Hamgyong Province area into the East Sea, South Korea said.

“South Korean military has strengthened surveillance and security measures and is preparing total military preparedness while maintaining close cooperation with the U.S.,” the joint chiefs’ office added. It also said that South Korea and the U.S. intelligence agencies are working on “detailed analysis for additional information.”

News of the launch comes a day after it was reported the country fired at least one missile over the weekend. U.S. officials downplayed that action, with one official describing it as being from North Korea’s “familiar menu of provocations.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister, Kim Yo Jong, issued a warning shot to the Biden administration in a statement last week, telling the new president not to proceed with planned joint military exercises with South Korea.

“If it wants to sleep in peace for [the] coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step,” she said, according to The Associated Press.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin were in South Korea last week as part of their regional tour aimed at boosting America’s Asian alliances. Blinken blasted Pyongyang’s history of human rights abuses. He also called North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs “a threat to the region and to the world.”

Senior administration officials confirmed Tuesday that Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, will meet with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts at the end of next week.

Officials described the Biden administration’s review of its North Korea policy as being in its “final stages.”

Stella Kim contributed.

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