North Korea fires four ballistic missiles

North Korea launched four ballistic missiles in the direction of Japan’s territorial waters on Sunday, a salvo that coincides with American and South Korean military drills in the region.

“We are conducting an analysis [with the U.S.] on the missiles to determine their type and other specifications,” the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said, according to Yonhap News Agency. “It will take a while before we can come up with a final analysis [based on U.S. satellite data].”

The launches took place two days after the beginning of Foal Eagle, an annual joint military drill between the United States and South Korea. The exercise is taking place in the context of already-heightened concern about the North Korean missile threat, as the United States is planning to deploy a terminal high-altitude missile defense system to the region.

“[North Korea’s] unlawful weapons program represents a clear, grave threat to our national security,” Pentagon spokesman Navy Capt. Jeff Davis told reporters Friday. “They have openly stated that their ballistic missiles are intended to deliver nuclear weapons to strike cities in the United States, Republic of Korea and Japan.”

China and Russia have protested the deployment of the missile defense battery, however, saying that it would upset the regional balance of power. “China has stressed time and again that it understands the reasonable security concerns of certain parties, but one country’s security should not come at the expense of another,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang said last week.

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