Seoul (CNN) – North Korea launched two missiles Short-range ballistic missiles were launched in waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula Thursday morning local time, according to the chief of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, escalating tensions in the region amid a series of military power demonstrations this week.
According to the South Korean statement, the launch of a ballistic missile from the Samsok region, in the North Korean capital, is the sixth carried out by North Korea in the past two weeks.
It also comes on the heels of a highly provocative launch by the country on Tuesday, when North Korea fired a ballistic missile without warning at Japan, its first in five years, prompting Tokyo to urge residents to take cover.
The United States and South Korea later responded with missile launches and exercises around the peninsula on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Speaking Wednesday during a trip to South America, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken warned that if North Korea “continues down the path of ‘provocation,’ it will only lead to increased condemnation, increased isolation, and increased steps being taken in response to these provocations.” Procedures.”
Last month, the navies of the United States, Japan and South Korea conducted joint anti-submarine exercises in international waters off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula to improve response capabilities against North Korean submarine threats.
The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its carrier strike group, as well as destroyers from South Korea and Japan, took part in the joint exercises, according to the South Korean Navy.
On Thursday, Pyongyang accused the United States of contributing to tensions on the Korean peninsula and called its launches a reaction.
The United States blames Russia and China for encouraging Pyongyang
The latest North Korean firing came hours after a briefing to the Security Council at the United Nations headquarters in New York on the weapons program.
In her intervention before the council, the US ambassador to the United Nations, Linda Thomas Greenfield, accused Russia and China of empowering the nation, without naming her.
He said North Korea “enjoys comprehensive protection for two members of this council. These two members have done their best to justify the DPRK’s repeated provocations and block any attempt to modernize the sanctions regime.”
Referring to Russia and China, Thomas Greenfield said that “two permanent members of the Security Council allowed it.” [el líder norcoreano] Kim Jong-un “continues” these provocations.
But China responded that it was Washington that was raising the tension.
“The United States has recently strengthened its military alliances in the Asia-Pacific region, intensifying the risks of military confrontation over the nuclear issue,” Chinese Deputy Ambassador to the United Nations, Geng Shuang, said at a Security Council meeting.
He added that the United States was “poisoning the regional security environment.”
Russia also blamed the United States.
“It is clear that Pyongyang’s missile launches were in response to the short-sighted military activities of the United States,” said Anna Evsteneeva, Russia’s deputy permanent representative to the United Nations.
More tests are expected from North Korea
Experts warn that recent tests by North Korea indicate that a further escalation in weapons tests may be on the horizon.
“North Korea will continue to conduct missile tests until the current modernization round is over,” Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asian Nonproliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies, told CNN earlier this week.
He added that a nuclear test could come “at any moment.”
Officials from South Korea and the United States have warned since May that North Korea may be preparing for a nuclear test, with satellite images showing activity at its underground nuclear test center.
If North Korea conducts a test, it will be the country’s seventh underground nuclear test and the first in nearly five years.
Richard Roth, Johnny Hallam, Larry Register and Sahar Akbarzai contributed reporting.
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