People sit in front of a television in Seoul showing news about a North Korean ballistic missile launch on Oct. 14, 2022, in South Korea. Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI
SEOUL, Oct. 28 (UPI) -- North Korea fired a pair of short-range ballistic missiles into the East Sea on Friday afternoon, Seoul defense officials said, as the South Korean military drew its annual defense drills to a close.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that it detected the launches around noon from the Tongchon area of North Korea's Kangwon Province, on the east coast of the Peninsula.
The missiles traveled around 143 miles and reached an altitude of 15 miles, the JCS said in a text message sent to reporters.
"In preparation for further North Korean provocations, the South Korean military will maintain a firm readiness posture while tracking and monitoring related trends under close cooperation with the United States," the JCS added.
The Hawaii-based U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said that the event "does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies."
"The missile launches highlight the destabilizing impact of the DPRK's unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs," the command said in a statement.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.
Pyongyang has fired 46 ballistic missiles across 25 launch events this year, a record-breaking frequency. The North tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile in five years in March and fired an intermediate-range missile over Japan earlier this month.
United Nations Security Council resolutions ban any ballistic missile activity by North Korea.
Tensions on the Peninsula remain elevated as the two Koreas exchanged warning shots near their de facto maritime border in the Yellow Sea on Monday.
U.S. and South Korean officials have also assessed that Pyongyang is getting ready to conduct a nuclear detonation at any time. On Tuesday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol told lawmakers that the North has completed preparations for the test, which would be its seventh overall and first since 2017.
The launches came as South Korea's annual Hoguk military field exercises, which began last week, were set to conclude on Friday. North Korea has called the drills "repeated military provocations" and claims its artillery fire and missile launches are meant as warnings in response.
Seoul and Washington will kick off a separate five-day joint air drill on Monday. The large-scale exercise, called Vigilant Storm, will involve 240 aircraft including F-35 fighter jets from both countries' air forces.
On Thursday, the Pentagon warned North Korea that any use of nuclear weapons would mean the end of leader Kim Jong Un's regime.
In its new National Defense Strategy, the Defense Department said that it would also hold North Korea responsible for any transfer of nuclear weapons technology, material or expertise to other actors.
"Any nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies and partners is unacceptable and will result in the end of that regime," the NDS report stated.
"There is no scenario in which the Kim regime could employ nuclear weapons and survive," it added.