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Three missiles were fired in less than an hour from the Sunan area of the North’s capital Pyongyang where its international airport has become a hub of missile tests, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.
An intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was believed to be the first fired, the second missile was unidentified and appeared to have failed mid-flight while a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) was the third set off, the JCS said.
In response, the US and South Korea held combined live-fire drills.
This included surface-to-surface missile tests involving the Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) of the US and the South’s Hyunmoo-2 SRBM, both militaries said.
“Our military’s show of force was intended to highlight our resolve to firmly respond to any North Korean provocations, including an ICBM launch, and our overwhelming capability and readiness to conduct a surgical strike on the origin of the provocation,” the JCS said in a statement.
Already North Korea has carried out a series of missile launches this year including the testing of hypersonic weapons and test firing its largest ICBMs for the first time in nearly five years.
Recently, US and South Korean officials warned North Korea appeared ready for another weapons test which could possibly take place during Biden's visit.
Yoon, who took office on May 10, convened his first meeting of the national security council, which strongly condemned the latest launch as a “grave provocation”, especially as it came before Biden returned home.
“North Korea’s continued provocations will only result in even stronger, faster South Korea-US deterrence, and bring deeper isolation upon itself,” Yoon’s government said in a separate statement.
Biden - who left Japan on Tuesday evening - had been briefed on the launches and would continue to receive updates, the White House said.