North Korea test-fires multiple short-range missiles

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North Korea has fired three short-range ballistic missiles, foreign governments say, but all of them appear to have ended in failure. It comes less than a month after the country’s second long-range missile test.

The first missile was launched at 6:19 a.m. local time on Saturday from the Kittaeryong Missile Test Site near Wonsan, which is located in the southeastern province of Gangwon, according to U.S. Pacific Command. A second missile was launched at 6:37 a.m. and a third at 7:49 a.m.

An initial assessment from the U.S. said the first and third missiles failed in flight, while the second missile appears to have blown up almost immediately. “We are working with our Interagency partners on a more detailed assessment and we will provide a public update if warranted,” the U.S. said.

At least one of the missiles traveled a distance of about 250 kilometers (155 miles) before falling into waters of the Sea of Japan, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. None of the missiles targeted the U.S. territory of Guam, which North Korea had threatened in recent weeks.

The missile launches are believed to have been part of a military drill, not a test for new technology, a Japanese government official told the Kyodo news agency. Several missile experts agreed with the assessment.

The missile launches come nearly a month after North Korea test-fired a long-range missile capable of reaching large parts of the U.S. mainland, including Los Angeles and Chicago. That test came just weeks after the launch of the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missile.

Tensions soared in the weeks after North Korea’s second long-range missile test, with U.S. President Donald Trump threatening “fire and fury” if North Korea escalates its nuclear threat. North Korea then threatened to fire missiles into waters near Guam, but the country did not act on the threat.

The latest developments follow months of escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, fueled by North Korea’s frequent missile tests and its advancing nuclear weapons program, as well as U.S. military exercises and statements by U.S. President Donald Trump.

Saturday’s missile tests also happened during annual joint military exercises between U.S. and South Korean troops. North Korea, which considers the exercises a drill for a military invasion, is known to carry out provocations during the annual event.

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