WASHINGTON – North Korea said via state-run media that its recent weapons launch was new tactical guided missiles.
The newly developed weapons, which can carry a warhead of up to 2.5 tons, flew approximately 300 miles over the East Sea, according to unverified North Korean news reports.
The United States, Japan and South Korea said Wednesday evening that Pyongyang fired off what appeared to be short-range ballistic missiles, the first ballistic tests from the hermit kingdom in nearly a year.
U.S. Navy Capt. Mike Kafka, a spokesman for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said the U.S. was monitoring the situation and consulting its allies and partners.
“This activity highlights the threat that North Korea’s illicit weapons program poses to its neighbors and the international community. The U.S. commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad,” Kafka said.
On the heels of the North’s ballistic missile test, the UN Security Council Sanctions Committee on North Korea will meet on Friday, a spokesperson confirmed to NBC News. The launch of two short-range ballistic missiles run in violation of UN Security Council resolution 1718.
Over the weekend, North Korea tested a cruise missile off the nation’s west coast, the first weapons test since President Joe Biden took office. Senior administration officials on a Tuesday evening call with reporters would not elaborate on what type of weapon was launched, the location of the test, nor its success rate.
On Thursday, Biden warned that there would be “responses” if North Korea continues to launch ballistic missiles.
“We are consulting with our allies and partners and there will be responses if they choose to escalate. We will respond accordingly,” Biden said in his first formal press conference. “I am also prepared for some form of diplomacy but it has to be conditioned upon the end result of denuclearization,” he added.
The multiple tests come as Pyongyang ignores invitations from Washington to discuss denuclearization and as the U.S. and South Korea resume large, joint military exercises.
Last week, a top North Korean official said Pyongyang will not respond to numerous invitations to restart nuke talks until the United States drops its “hostile policies.”
“We have already declared our stand that no DPRK-U.S. contact and dialogue of any kind can be possible unless the U.S. rolls back its hostile policy towards the DPRK,” said First Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son Hui, according to a statement released by state-run Korean Central News Agency.
Under Kim Jong Un, the reclusive state has conducted its most powerful nuclear test, launched its first-ever intercontinental ballistic missile and threatened to send missiles into the waters near the U.S. territory of Guam.
Since 2011, Kim has launched more than 100 missiles and conducted four nuclear weapons tests, which is more than what his father, Kim Jong Il, and grandfather, Kim Il Sung, launched over a period of 27 years.
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