March 2 (UPI) -- North Korea fired two projectiles from its eastern coast on Monday afternoon, according to the South's military.
Seoul's joint chiefs of staff said Monday short-range projectiles were launched from an area near the North Korean city of Wonsan at 12:37 p.m. The tests appeared to be a part of ongoing exercises that began with a live-fire military drill on Saturday.
South Korea's defense ministry said the projectiles flew a distance of about 150 miles at an altitude of 22 miles. The U.S. and South Korean military are sharing intelligence following the launch. Seoul did not rule out further provocations and said that are maintaining a "posture of preparedness."
The presidential Blue House responded to the tests in the afternoon, saying North Korea's actions "are not conducive to efforts to alleviate military tensions on the Korean Peninsula."
"We urge the tests to stop," the Blue House said, according to South Korean news service NK Economy.
Confirmation of North Korean launches of short-range projectiles come two days after Kim Jong Un presided over a live-fire military exercise, despite the regime's decision to dial down activities in response to the outbreak of the new strain of coronavirus in neighboring China.
Leif-Eric Easley, associate professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, said in an emailed statement to UPI that North Korea's first missile launches of the year show Pyongyang sees little benefit in restarting diplomacy.
"Pyongyang instead appears intent on raising the stakes before South Korea's April elections and before the 'Super Tuesday' primaries of the U.S. presidential campaign," Easley said.
On Sunday, the 101st anniversary of the March First movement in South Korea, President Moon Jae-in said he hoped for joint cooperation between the two Koreas in the health sector.
"However, North Korea responds with missiles," Moon said Sunday.
South Korean's political opposition on Monday criticized Moon for his approach to policy, including the economy, response to COVID-19 and security, Newsis reported.