North Korea fired suspected short-range rockets into the Yellow Sea on Sunday, days after the North attempted to fire a ballistic missile that ended in massive failure as it exploded upon launch, according to Reuters. The North’s latest burst of weapons testing fuels concerns about rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry said “short-range projectile launches” were detected on Sunday off North Korea’s west coast. The ministry said it monitors the situation and maintains readiness.
“This morning there was firing in North Korea which is assumed to be multiple rocket launcher shots, and our military was monitoring the related situation and maintaining a readiness posture,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
Yonhap news agency reported four rockets were fired within an hour in an unspecified location in North Korea’s Pyongan province. All projectiles landed in the Yellow Sea.
South Korea’s presidential office said it held an emergency national security council meeting over the launches. The council members analyzed details about the firings and were in close contact with the US.
South Korea is expected to increase its military capability on the peninsula after it recently approved plans to procure a multi-billion dollar defense missile shield, similar to Israel’s “Iron Dome,” designed to shoot down the North’s ballistic and long-range missiles.
A power transition is underway in South Korea as President Moon Jae-in’s presidential term ends in May and will be replaced by a conservative government led by Yoon Suk Yeol, who has called for a more robust military alliance with the US.
On Wednesday, the North fired what was supposed to be the 10th weapons launch this year, failed after the projectile exploded during its booster phase.
The latest weapons testing may suggest the North is preparing to fire a Hwasong-17 rocket, first unveiled at a military parade in 2020, to test its long-range capabilities and place the US mainland within striking distance.