North Korea fires two missiles eastward

North Korea launched two unidentified missiles into waters east of the peninsula early Thursday, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

The JCS was quoted by local news agency Yonhap reporting that the North “fired one unidentified projectile at 5:34 a.m. and the other at 5:57 a.m. from Wonsan areas into the East Sea, and they flew around 430 kilometers.”

A South Korean defense official, requesting anonymity because of department rules, said that an initial analysis showed both missiles were fired from mobile launchers and flew at a maximum altitude of 50 kilometers (30 miles). He said South Korea’s military believes a second missile that flew 690 kilometers is a new type of missile but more analysis is necessary.

As South Korea’s military holds “a readiness posture,” the JCS said intelligence officials are further investigating the nature of the projectiles alongside counterparts from the United States.

If it turns out that the North launched ballistic missiles, then it could incur further punishment on top of heavy sanctions already imposed by the United Nations Security Council, although U.S. President Donald Trump played down the significance of short-range missile launches in early May.

The North appears to be ramping up military activities after expressing displeasure over a joint drill involving U.S. and South Korean troops planned for next month, calling into question expectations for working-level denuclearization dialogue with Washington.