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North Korea fires ballistic missiles into the sea off the east coast

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The latest launches come three days after Pyongyang said it tested a “high-thrust solid fuel motor” engine for ballistic missiles.

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North Korean missile tests: Border residents in South Korea fear war

North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the sea off the east coast of the Korean peninsula, according to South Korean and Japanese officials.

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South Korea’s Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launches occurred from the northwestern Tongchang-ri area on Sunday morning.

He said the missiles were fired about 50 minutes apart, but gave no further details.

The Japanese Defense Ministry also confirmed the launches.

It said the missiles flew at an altitude of 550 kilometers (342 miles) and covered a range of 250 kilometers (53 miles).

Japan’s Vice Defense Minister Toshiro Ino said the missiles appeared to have fallen outside the country’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ). He said that so far there have been no reports of damage caused by the missiles.

The latest launches come three days after Pyongyang said it tested a “high thrust solid fuel motor” engine, which experts say would enable faster and more mobile launches of its ballistic missile arsenals.

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The test of the new missile engine was overseen by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and was carried out at the Sohae satellite launch field in Tongchang-ri, which has been used to test missile technologies including rocket engines and vehicles. space launch, according to state media. .

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In recent months, North Korea has tested a barrage of nuclear-capable ballistic missiles, including last month’s launch of its longer-range, more advanced liquid-fueled Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile, which is designed to carry multiple warheads and It has been nicknamed the “Monster Missile”.

The exact status of North Korea’s nuclear strike capability remains under wraps, as all of its ICBM tests in recent years have been carried out at a steep angle to avoid neighboring countries.

Some experts speculate that North Korea already has operational nuclear missiles that can reach the entire territory of the United States, given the number of years it has devoted to its nuclear program.

But others say the country is still years away from acquiring such weapons and has yet to publicly demonstrate that it has the technology to protect the warheads from the harsh conditions of re-entry.

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The United States and South Korea have expanded their regular military exercises and pushed to further strengthen their combined defense capability against the advance of Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

North Korea has threatened to use nuclear weapons preemptively in potential conflicts with the United States and South Korea, while the Pentagon has warned Pyongyang that the use of nuclear weapons “will result in the end of that regime.”

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