By Sarah Kuehn,
International News Writer
According to U.S. and South Korean officials, two medium range missiles were launched into the sea early in the morning on Friday, Mar. 18.
The South Korean military states that the first missile was launched from Sukchon, and flew 800 km before crashing into the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, according to Al Jazeera. The second missile was fired about 20 minutes later, but disappeared off radar in the beginning of its flight.
Both missiles are believed to be medium range Rodong missiles fired from road-mobile launch vehicles. If this is confirmed, it would be the first test since 2014 of a medium range missile, having an estimated maximum range of 1300 km, which could be capable of reaching the Japanese mainland, according to the Guardian.
The missile launches come in the midst of heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula after North Korea rejected UN Security Council sanctions imposed earlier this month. The sanctions were made in response to the North Korean nuclear test in January, according to Al Jazeera.
Additional U.S. sanctions were recently imposed on Pyongyang aiming to expand the blockade on North Korea by specifically targeting individuals and entities that deal with the North Korean economy.
According to Al Jazeera, Jeff Kingston, a professor of Asian Studies at Temple University in Tokyo, Japan, stated that the test firing was “clearly” a “defiant gesture by the North Korean government.”
He added that the international system is at an impasse, and that “it’s really hard to see a bright road ahead,” as quoted by Al Jazeera.
The U.S. is currently monitoring the situation and urging North Korea to refrain from any further actions that could raise tensions. South Korea has also condemned North Korea’s testing by calling it a direct challenge to the UN Security Council and the international community.
Japan opposed the testing by lodging a protest through its embassy in Beijing.
A version of this article appeared in the Tuesday, March 22nd print edition.
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