North Korea test-fired what were believed to have been two short-range ballistic missiles on Friday, the general staff of the South Korean armed forces said.
The launches came after North Korea’s Foreign Ministry accused the U.S. of “provocation’’ for imposing further sanctions on Pyongyang for its weapons programme and threatened Washington with a clear response.
The test was the third carried out by North Korea within 10 days.
South Korea’s National Security Council expressed its “deep regret’’ about North Korea’s continued missile launches.
The U. S. Indo-Pacific Command accused North Korea of destabilising the region through its illegal weapons programme and said that it also believed the latest test to have involved ballistic missiles.
South Korean authorities believed the missiles were launched in the northwest of North Korea, close to the Chinese border, and travelled about 430 kilometres over the Sea of Japan.
Citing military officials, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported that the missiles were believed to be fired at a predetermined target on an uninhabited North Korean island.
North Korea last conducted missile tests, with what is claimed to be hypersonic missiles, on Jan. 5, and again on Tuesday.
Hypersonic weapons are difficult to intercept because of their high speed and manoeuvrability.
UN resolutions prohibit North Korea from testing ballistic missiles, which, depending on their design, can also carry a nuclear warhead.
On Wednesday, the U.S. Treasury Department sanctioned five North Koreans who, it claimed, were believed to be engaged in procuring items needed for the country’s missile programmes.
The five individuals had their U.S. assets frozen.
The U.S. is now lobbying for further UN sanctions against North Korea.
If the U.S. sought confrontation, the country would give a stronger and clearer response.
The North Korean Foreign Ministry spokesperson was quoted as saying by state media on Friday.
He added that North Korea was simply working to modernise its weapons stockpile.