North Korea fired a pair of short-range ballistic missiles into the sea Tuesday morning, Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff said, one day after large-scale U.S.-South Korea joint military drills began. File Photo by Thomas Maresca/UPI
SEOUL, March 14 (UPI) -- North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea on Tuesday morning, Seoul defense officials said, one day after the United States and South Korea kicked off their largest joint military exercise in five years.
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said that officials detected the launch from the Jangyon area of South Hwanghae province, located in the southwest of the country, between 7:41 and 7:51 a.m.
The missiles flew around 385 miles and landed in the sea between Korea and Japan, the JCS said in a text message to reporters.
"We strongly condemn North Korea's ballistic missile launches as grave provocations that undermine peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, as well as the international community, and are in clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions," the JCS said.
Pyongyang's latest launch followed a test of submarine-fired cruise missiles that were announced Monday by state-run media.
Hawaii-based U.S. Indo-Pacific Command condemned the "destabilizing impact" of the recent launches.
"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, and the recent cruise launches, highlight the destabilizing impact of the DPRK's unlawful WMD and ballistic missile program," it said in a statement.
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the official name of North Korea.
Japan also reported Tuesday's ballistic missile launch. At a press briefing, Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno, Tokyo's top spokesman, said the missiles did not appear to land within the waters of Japan's exclusive economic zone, but cautioned that North Korea may ramp up its weapons tests.
"We believe there's a possibility North Korea may be engaged in further provocations, including various types of ballistic missile and nuclear tests," he said.
The U.S.-South Korea Freedom Shield exercise began Monday and is slated to run through March 23. It consists of live field drills and computer-simulation command post exercises at a scale not seen in five years.
North Korea has frequently condemned the allies' joint drills as preparation for an invasion and warned last month of "unprecedentedly persistent and strong counteractions" to the exercise.
Last week, Pyongyang launched at least six short-range missiles into the sea, which North Korean leader Kim Jong Un called preparation for an "actual war response."