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North Korea launches 2 missiles to sea as allies hold drills

North Korea has test-fired two short-range ballistic missiles in another show of force, a day after the United States and South Korea began military drills that Pyongyang views as an invasion rehearsal.

The missiles launched from the southwestern coastal town of Jangyon flew across North Korea before landing in the sea off that country’s east coast, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement on Tuesday. 

It said both missiles traveled about 620 kilometers (385 miles). The reported flight distances suggest the missiles target South Korea, which hosts about 28,000 U.S troops. 

South Korea’s military called the launches “a grave provocation” that undermines stability on the Korean Peninsula. 

The US Indo-Pacific Command said Tuesday’s launches don’t pose an immediate threat to its allies. 

But it said the North’s recent tests highlight the “destabilizing impact” of the North’s unlawful weapons programs and that the US security commitment to South Korea and Japan remains “ironclad”.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters that officials were still gathering details of the North Korean launches and there were no immediate reports of damage in Japanese waters.

US State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Monday the United States has made clear it harbors no hostile intent toward North Korea and that the allies’ longstanding exercises are “purely defensive in nature.”

READ MORE: US’ shooting down of test missiles will be ‘declaration of war’: DPRK

Holding telephone talks for the second consecutive day to discuss the North Korean launches, the chief South Korean and US nuclear envoys stressed Tuesday that the North would face “clear consequences” for its actions, without specifying what those would be.
They said the allies will maintain “firm readiness” to respond to any kind of North Korean provocation, according to Seoul’s Foreign Ministry. 

Pyongyang could further escalate its weapons tests over the coming days in a tit-for-tat response to the allies’ military drills, which are planned to run until March 23.
READ MORE: North Korea test-fires two strategic cruise missiles from sub: state media

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