(COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo.) — North Korea has fired two medium-range Nodong ballistic missiles into the waters east of the Korean Peninsula, U.S. officials said Tuesday, noting the launches did not pose a threat to the U.S. homeland.
A spokesperson for NORAD/U.S. Northern Command confirmed that two missiles were fired at approximately 2:30 a.m. local time, or 1:30 p.m. ET.
“We are aware of the reports that North Korea fired two missiles from its southeast coast,” the spokesperson said. “Norad/U.S. Northern Command assesses the launches did not pose a threat to North America.”
Another U.S. official confirmed that the two missiles launched by North Korea were Nodong mid-range ballistic missiles.
Neither official had information as to how far the missiles had traveled.
South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency cited South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff as saying the ballistic missiles had traveled 400 miles into the waters east of the Korean Peninsula.
United Nations Security Council Resolutions bar North Korea from conducting ballistic missile tests.
Since Feb. 21, North Korea has fired several volleys of short-range Soviet-era FROG artillery missiles that had not been deemed a threat by either South Korea or the United States. On Monday, North Korea fired a volley of 30 of the missiles into the sea.
Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the commander of U.S. Forces Korea, told a congressional panel Tuesday that a small portion of the missile volleys were part of the normal winter training cycle.
The remainder were “demonstrations, both for his regime and for demonstration to the people of capability,” Scaparrotti said, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. He said they were also intended to demonstrate to the U.S. and South Korea what they are capable of doing “on short notice, with very little warning.”
North Korea typically conducts provocatory actions around the same time as an annual joint U.S.-South Korean military exercise.
In his appearance before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Scaparrotti agreed with an assessment that North Korea is on pace to develop a long-range ballistic missile capability by 2024 that could reach the U.S. homeland.
In 2012, North Korea fired two long-range Unha 3 missile tests that it said were intended to launch a satellite into orbit, but which the U.S. said was a cover for an ICBM test.
Also of concern has been North Korea’s development of the KN-08 missile, an intercontinental ballistic missile that is capable of being fired from a mobile launcher and with little warning. Early last year, North Korea played a cat-and-mouse game with the missile, placing it in a launch position several times, though ultimately no launch was carried out.
A U.S. official said Monday that the U.S. had not picked up any indications that North Korea was preparing to launch its long-range missile tests.
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