North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea on Thursday, hours after US vice president Kamala Harris flew home from a visit to South Korea during which she emphasized the “ironclad” US commitment to the security of its Asian allies.

Iran PressAsia: North Korea also fired two short-range ballistic missiles eastward from the capital city of Pyongyang on Thursday morning, one day before US Vice President Kamala Harris is set to visit South Korea.

The ballistic missile firing was the second in three days as Seoul and Washington engaged in large-scale naval drills.

North Korea 3rd round of missile tests in a week

It was the third round of missile launches by North Korea this week, extending a record pace in weapons testing as it accelerates a push to expand its arsenal and pressure Washington to accept it as a nuclear power.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the North Korean missiles were fired nine minutes from an area near the city of Sunchon, just north of the capital, Pyongyang, and flew toward waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. 

Japan's military said it also detected a launch. North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Wednesday, while Ms. Harris was in Japan, and fired one before she left Washington on Sunday.

Harris earlier capped her four-day trip to Asia with a meeting with South Korean president Yoon Suk Yeol and a stop at the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ) dividing the Korean Peninsula, where she addressed the threat posed by the increasingly hostile North.

There are also concerns that North Korea may conduct a nuclear test, moving the country closer to being acknowledged as a full-fledged nuclear power.

Visiting the DMZ has become a ritual for American leaders hoping to show their resolve to stand firm against aggression.

There are indications North Korea may up its weapons demonstrations soon. Last week, South Korean officials said that they detected signs that North Korea was preparing to test a ballistic missile system that was designed to be fired from submarines.

US and South Korean officials also say North Korea is possibly gearing up for its first nuclear test since 2017. According to Seoul's spy agency, that test could come after China holds its Communist Party convention the week of October 16, but before the United States has its midterm elections on November 8.


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North Korea fires ballistic missiles again toward East Sea