North Korea fires two-short range ballistic missiles on Friday, the third launching this month, in retaliation for the new sanctions imposed by the United States for Pyongyang's continued weapons tests.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea reported that they fired the missiles from an interior location in western North Pyongan province.
The launch was also detected by Japan's Prime Minister's Office and Defense Ministry. They instructed the Japanese coast guard to warn ships within the country on falling debris.
North Korea had issued a statement criticizing the Biden administration for imposing additional sanctions in response to its earlier missile launches. Pyongyang warned Washington that more concrete action would occur if the US continued to take a "confrontational stance," as per the Associated Press.
In response to the North's missile launch earlier this week, five North Koreans were sanctioned for their roles in obtaining equipment and technology to develop North Korea's high-tech missiles that can overcome defense systems.
North Korea Provoking the US?
Leif-Eric Easley, an associate professor of international studies at Ewha University in Seoul, said Pyongyang was following a familiar playbook attempting to "lay a trap" for US President Biden's administration.
Easly said that North Korea is responding to the pressure from the US by conducting additional provocations in "an effort to extort concessions." He also suggested that Pyongyang's threats should not be rewarded with international recognition or sanctions relief. Instead, once North Korea has engaged diplomatically again, it should be offered humanitarian aid, as per Al Jazeera.
Denuclearisation negotiations with Pyongyang have been stalled since the collapse of the 2019 Hanoi summit between North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un and then-US President Donald Trump.
Last week, the UN Security Council conducted a closed-door meeting on Pyongyang's missile launch. Before the discussions, the US and its allies blasted the weapons test and urged the North Korean government to end its development of a sophisticated arsenal.
In a press release issued by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency, an unidentified Foreign Ministry representative justified Pyongyang's launches of purported hypersonic missiles as a legitimate act of self-defense, as per News Public Radio.
The North Korean spokesperson accused the US of adopting a "gangster-like" behavior, claiming that the missile launch is part of Pyongyang's upgrade program. The official also noted that the country does not target any single country or threaten its neighbors' security.
Meanwhile, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken believes North Korea is attempting to get attention and calls recent missile tests "profoundly destabilizing." He added that the US was profoundly engaged with allies at the UN to address the issue.
"We are very focused with allies and partners in making sure that they and we are properly defended and that there are repercussions, consequences for these actions by North Korea, " Blinken said.
On Tuesday, the United States Indo-Pacific Command emphasized its "ironclad" commitment to defend its allies Japan and South Korea.