North Korea fired multiple cruise missiles off its east coast: South Korea.

North Korea fired multiple cruise missiles off its east coast on Wednesday as its rivals South Korea and the United States held joint military exercises, the South Korean military said.

The missiles were fired at around 10:15 a.m. (0115 GMT) from its South Hamgyong province, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.

It was not immediately clear how many projectiles were fired and exactly what type they were.

The launches came three days after North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile towards the sea off its east coast.

Pyongyang has long bristled at exercises conducted by South Korean and U.S. forces, saying they are preparation for an invasion of the North, and it fired the missiles into the sea as the drills were underway.

South Korea and the United States say the exercises are purely defensive.

The JCS statement said the military was on high alert and South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities were analysing the launches.

South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said Wednesday’s launches could have involved strategic cruise missiles.

“Strategic” is typically used to describe weapons that have a nuclear capability. North Korea’s last known firing of strategic cruise missiles was on March 12 when it said it fired two from a submarine.

A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department said it continued to call on North Korea “to refrain from any further destabilising acts” and reiterated that the U.S. commitment to the defence of South Korea and Japan remained “ironclad”.

The allies are set to conclude 11 days of the exercises, called “Freedom Shield 23”, on Thursday.

“We will successfully wrap up our Freedom Shield exercise as planned under firm combined defence posture,” the South Korean military said.

On Wednesday, the USS Makin, an amphibious assault ship, docked in South Korea for the allies’ first large-scale amphibious landing exercise in five years, the U.S. military said.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, meanwhile, visited the military cyber command and called for proactive operations to defend against cyber threats, his office said.

North Korea has been ramping up its military tests in recent weeks, firing an intercontinental ballistic missile last week and conducting what it called a nuclear counterattack simulation against the United States and South Korea over the weekend.

It has also directed strong rhetoric against Washington and Seoul. Its state news agency quoted a foreign official as saying that pressure on Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons was tantamount to declaration of war.

The remark was directed at the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas-Greenfield, who on Monday called North Korea’s weapons programs “unlawful” and said it should abandon them “in a complete, verifiable, and irreversible manner”.

Source- Hindustan Times.

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