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Launches, possibly in response to US-South Korea joint military exercises, appear to end in failure and did not pose a threat to Guam, says US
Japan’s top government spokesman says there is no direct threat to Japan following North Korea’s latest test-launch of three short-range missiles.
Yoshihide Suga told reporters the missiles early on Saturday did not fall into Japan’s territorial waters or the coastal 200-mile economic zone. Japan has previously deployed missile interceptors after North Korea threatened to fire projectiles over Japan toward the US territory of Guam.
In the latest launch, the US Pacific Command says two of the North’s missiles failed in flight after an unspecified distance, and another appeared to have blown up immediately.
South Korea’s military said several short-range projectiles had been fired from Kangwon province, travelling north-east for about 250km (155 miles) before landing in the sea.
US and South Korean intelligence authorities are analysing the trajectories of the projectiles and other data to identify them.
“The military is keeping a tight surveillance over the North to cope with further provocations,” South Korean officials added.
The North tends to test-fire ballistics missiles or other projectiles – including those from long-range multiple rocket launchers – in response to US-South Korea joint military exercises.
Tens of thousands of South Korean and US troops are taking part in the Ulchi Freedom Guardian joint military drills, a largely computer-simulated exercise that runs for two weeks.
The launch comes weeks after North Korea created a tense standoff with the United States by threatening to lob some of its missiles toward Guam.
It was the first by the North since it test-fired a missile on 28 July that could have been designed to reach 10,000km, putting parts of the US mainland within reach.
North Korea has carried out nuclear tests and dozens of missile launches despite continued UN sanctions that began after Pyongyang’s first nuclear test in 2006.
Concern is growing that with every new test, North Korea is edging towards developing a fully functioning ICBM that, in theory, could strike the US mainland.