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North Korea Test-Fires Ballistic Missiles in Message to US

03-24-2021
File photo of North Korean missile. (AP Photo)
File photo of North Korean missile. (AP Photo)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) - North Korea test-fired its first ballistic missiles since President Joe Biden took office on Thursday, as it expands its military capabilities and increases pressure on Washington while nuclear negotiations remain stalled. 
  
Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga said the launches threaten “peace and safety in Japan and the region,” and that Tokyo will closely coordinate with Washington and Seoul on the North’s testing activities.
  
South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missiles were fired at around 7:06 a.m. and 7:25 a.m. from an area on the North's eastern coast and flew 450 kilometers (279 miles) on an apogee of 60 kilometers (37 miles) before landing in the sea. 
  
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command spokesperson Capt. Mike Kafka said the U.S. military was aware of the missiles and was monitoring the situation while closely consulting with allies. 
  
Another senior U.S. official, who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss military observations, matched the information from South Korea's military, saying that initial assessments suggest the North fired two short-range ballistic missiles. 
  
"This activity highlights the threat that North Korea’s illicit weapons program poses to its neighbors and the international community," Kafka said. 
  
The launches came a day after U.S. and South Korean officials said the North fired short-range weapons presumed to be cruise missiles into its western sea over the weekend. 

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