Por Josh Smith y Hyonhee Shin
SEOUL, Jan 14 (Reuters) – North Korea fired at least two ballistic missiles on Friday, its third test in less than two weeks, just hours after criticizing the imposition of new U.S. sanctions over earlier launches as a “provocation” and warn of a strong reaction.
Two weeks of missile launches by North Korea, the passage of retaliatory sanctions by the United States, and outraged statements from both sides have raised the specter of a return to the 2017 days of earlier “fire and fury” threats. of a diplomatic push failing and a return to confrontation.
South Korea’s National Security Council held an emergency meeting, expressing “strong regret” over the test and calling on Pyongyang to return to talks.
“He stressed that North Korea’s series of missile tests does not help stabilize the situation on the Korean peninsula at this important moment, and urged North Korea to respond quickly to calls for dialogue,” the presidential Blue House said in a statement. a statement.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected what it presumed were two short-range ballistic missiles launched east from Uiju in North Pyongan province on the country’s west coast, near its border with China.
Japan’s coast guard also said the North fired what could be a ballistic missile. The missiles appeared to fall into the sea outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, NHK reported, citing an unnamed Japanese Defense Ministry official.
“North Korea’s actions, including the repeated launches of ballistic missiles, constitute a threat to the security of our nation and the region, and are an important matter for the entire international society,” said Hirokazu Matsuno, Chief Cabinet Secretary. Japanese.
The US military’s Indo-Pacific Command said that while it assessed the launch as not posing an immediate threat to the United States or its allies, it highlighted the “destabilizing impact of the (North’s) illicit weapons program.”
(Additional reporting by Chang-Ran Kim in Tokyo; Spanish editing by Carlos Serrano)