SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern seas Wednesday, its neighbors said.
The launch came as North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was traveling in Russia for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin while there are international concerns about a potential arms deal that could fuel Moscow’s war efforts in Ukraine.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the missiles being fired 10 minutes apart from an area in Sunan, the site of Pyongyang’s international airport, and that the weapons flew cross-country toward the country’s eastern seas. It didn’t immediately say how far the weapons flew.
Japan’s Coast Guard, citing Tokyo’s Defense Ministry, said the missile likely has landed but still urged vessels around the Japanese coasts to watch out for falling objects.
Kim has been using the international distraction caused by Russia’s war in Ukraine to ramp up the North’s weapons development, a process that has included more than 100 missile launches since the start of 2022.
According to U.S. officials, Putin could use his meeting with Kim to secure more supplies of North Korean artillery and other ammunition to refill declining reserves and prolong his invasion of Ukraine. Experts say Kim in return could seek badly needed economic aid and sophisticated weapons technologies to advance his nuclear-weapons and missiles program.