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North Korea fires 3 more short-range ballistic missiles into sea

A photo released by North Korean government on December 19 shows what it says a test of a rocket with the test satellite at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in North Korea. Photo by North Korean Press Service/UPI
A photo released by North Korean government on December 19 shows what it says a test of a rocket with the test satellite at the Sohae Satellite Launching Ground in North Korea. Photo by North Korean Press Service/UPI | License Photo

Dec. 31 (UPI) -- North Korea continued its ramped-up program of short-range ballistic missiles tests on Saturday, firing a trio of rockets into the East Sea, South Korean military officials said.

The country's Joint Chiefs of Staff told the Yonhap news agency the launches were made from Chunghwa County, just south of Pyongyang, at 8 a.m. Saturday. The projectiles traveled more than 200 mils before coming down in the sea.

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The incident brought the North's total missile launchings for 2022 to around 70, by far establishing a single-year record and further escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula.

South Korea and Japan have called for a more robust military presence in response to North Korea's unprecedented number of tests.

"We strongly condemn them and call for an immediate stop," the South Korean joint chiefs said in a text message sent to reporters. "Our military will maintain a solid readiness posture based on capabilities to respond overwhelmingly to any North Korean provocations."

"We are aware of the ballistic missile launches and are consulting closely with our allies and partners," the U.S. Indo Pacific Command said in an issued statement. "While we have assessed that this 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 [North Korea's] unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs.

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"The U.S. commitments to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remain ironclad."

The latest missile firings came as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un presided over the Sixth Enlarged Plenary Meeting of the Communist Party's 8th Central Committee in Pyongyang this week, where he told party leaders the isolated nation faces a "newly created challenging situation" in its ongoing "anti-enemy struggle."

Saturday's launch also follows an announcement that South Korea has successfully conducted a test flight of a solid-fuel space launch vehicle.

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