Both North and South Korea tested ballistic missiles on Wednesday, ratcheting up tensions exponentially in what was already one of the most volatile regions on the planet.
Pyongyang fired the first missiles on Wednesday, sending two into waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula five minutes apart, at 12:38 p.m. and 12:43 p.m. local time (11:38 p.m. and 11:43 p.m. ET), according to Japan’s Coast Guard.
Seoul followed that test less than three hours later, firing a new submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) from the submerged 3,700-ton submarine ROKS Dosan Ahn Changho, South Korea’s Defense Ministry said. The missile hit its target accurately, the ministry said without giving more details.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in was present for the test, the ministry said.
South Korea’s weapons development, including its missile capabilities, has been picking up speed as the country tries to become less dependent on the United States and more wary of the growing missile program in North Korea.
In May, Moon and US President Joe Biden agreed to end a 40-year-old bilateral agreement that limited the range and payload of South Korean missiles.
North Korea, in a posting from its state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), called the ending of those restrictions on the South a “deliberate and hostile act” by Washington and vowed to “counter the US on the principle of strength for strength.”
With the launch, South Korea becomes the seventh military in the world to successfully test and SLBM, the ministry said.