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Missiles Fired Ahead of Harris Trip    09/28 06:16

   

   SEOUL, South Korea (AP) -- North Korea fired two short-range ballistic 
missiles toward its eastern waters on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, a 
day before U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is to visit the South.

   South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that the North 
Korean missiles lifted off 10 minutes apart on Wednesday afternoon from its 
capital region and flew toward the waters off its east coast.

   It said South Korea has boosted its surveillance and is maintaining a 
military readiness in close coordination with the United States.

   Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructed officials to take "utmost 
caution" in case of any emergencies, while gathering information and ensuring 
the safety of vessels and aircraft. Japan's coast guard issued a warning to 
vessels in the area, but there were no reports of damage.

   The launches follow a missile test by North Korea earlier this week. Harris 
is to arrive in South Korea on Thursday for talks with President Yoon Suk Yeol 
and other officials. She also is to visit the tense border with North Korea, in 
what U.S. officials call an attempt to underscore the strength of the 
U.S.-South Korean alliance and the U.S. commitment to "stand beside" South 
Korea in the face of any North Korea threats.

   U.S. and South Korean navy ships are also conducting drills off South 
Korea's east coast in a show of force against North Korea.

   The four-day exercise, which began Monday, involves the nuclear-powered 
aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan. It is the first training exercise by the 
allies involving a U.S. aircraft carrier near the Korean Peninsula since 2017.

   South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises often draw a furious response from 
North Korea, which views them as an invasion rehearsal. A short-range North 
Korean missile launched Sunday was seen as a response to the U.S.-South Korean 
training.

   North Korea has dialed up its missile testing activities to a record pace in 
2022, launching more than 30 ballistic weapons, including its first 
intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017. North Korea's Sunan area where 
Wednesday's launches occurred was the site of various missile tests this year, 
including two ICBMs.

   Earlier this month, North Korea adopted a new law authorizing the preemptive 
use of nuclear weapons in some situations, as it continues to escalate its 
nuclear doctrine. U.S. and South Korean officials have also said the North may 
soon conduct its first nuclear test in five years.

   Earlier Wednesday, South Korea's spy agency told lawmakers that a nuclear 
test could happen between mid-October and early November.

   According to some lawmakers who attended the meeting, the National 
Intelligence Service said if the test occurs, it is likely to come after China, 
North Korea's last major ally, holds a key Communist Party congress on Oct. 16 
but before the United States votes in midterm elections on Nov. 7.

   North Korea's torrid run of weapons tests this year is seen as exploiting 
divides in the United Nations Security Council over Russia's war against 
Ukraine and the U.S.-China rivalry. In May, China and Russia vetoed a U.S.-led 
bid to impose new sanctions on North Korea over its ballistic missile tests 
this year, which violate U.N. Security Council resolutions.

 
 
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