North Korea fires cruise missiles towards Yellow Sea: South Korean military

Missile launches come as South Korean and US forces conclude joint military exercises on Korean Peninsula.

A missile is launched from a boat in a blaze of flames. Kim Jong Un and a navy officer are watching from the quay. They have their backs to the camera.
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un, right, is seen watching a strategic cruise missile being launched from a ship in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency [KCNA] August 21, 2023 [File: KCNA via AFP]

North Korea has fired several cruise missiles towards the sea off the west coast of the Korean Peninsula, South Korea’s military said.

The launches early on Saturday morning follow just days after North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into waters off its east coast in what it described as a simulated “nuclear strike” on targets in South Korea.

Details of the latest missile launches towards the Yellow Sea at approximately 4am local time on Saturday (19:00 GMT on Friday) are being analysed by South Korean and United States intelligence authorities, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

The Joint Chiefs said that South Korea’s military was monitoring the situation, according to South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency.

“Our military is maintaining a full readiness posture in close cooperation with the United States,” the joint chiefs said, according to Yonhap.

North Korea said on Thursday that it had fired two short-range ballistic missiles in a simulated “scorched-earth” nuclear attack scenario against military command centres and airfields in South Korea.

The simulation appeared to be a response to the 11-day Ulchi Freedom Shield military drills between South Korean and the US forces – exercises that North Korea has long claimed are rehearsals for a possible future invasion of its territory by enemies in Seoul and Washington.

At least one US long-range B-1B strategic bomber was flown above the Korean Peninsula during the military exercises, which wrapped up on Friday the same day that South Korea announced sanctions on five North Korean individuals and one company in response to Pyongyang’s launch of what it said was a space rocket last month.

Despite United Nations resolutions prohibiting North Korea from launching and testing ballistic missiles of any range, Pyongyang test-fired an unprecedented number of missiles last year and appears set to test as many or more missiles this year.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies