North Korea fired three ballistic missiles early on Wednesday morning, May 25, just hours after US president, Joe Biden left South Korea, South Korea’s military has said. The launches came hours after US President Joe Biden departed for the US on Tuesday evening, May 24 after a five-day trip that saw him visiting South Korea and Japan.
US and South Korean officials had earlier warned that North Korea appeared ready for another weapons test, possibly during Biden’s visit. During his visit to Seoul over the weekend, Biden and South Korean president Yoon Suk-yeol agreed to hold bigger military drills and deploy more U.S. strategic assets if necessary to deter North Korea’s intensifying weapons tests.
Biden had said the United States was “prepared for anything North Korea does.” While Suk-Yeol said the days of appeasing North Korea were over . North Korea has been test-firing ballistic missiles since the beginning of this year.
Also, Japan confirmed at least two launches happened on Wednesday but acknowledged there may have been more. Japan’s Defence Minister Nobuo Kishi said first missile flew about 300km (186 miles) with a maximum altitude of around 550 km, while the second, reaching as high as 50 km, travelled around 750 km.
Kishi criticised the launches, saying they were “not acceptable” adding that it would “threaten the peace, stability and safety of Japan and the international community”.
In a meeting convened after the missile launch, South Korea’s National Security Council called the test a “grave provocation”, the presidential office said. Western intelligence say evidence is mounting that North Korea is preparing to test a nuclear weapon. This would be its first nuclear test in five years and a major step-up.