One of three short-range ballistic missiles that North Korea fired early Saturday blew up “almost immediately,” while the other two flew about 155 miles into the sea, US officials said.
North Korea likely fired the missiles in response to military exercises under way in South Korea involving tens of thousands of US and South Korean troops, military experts said.
The North sees the biannual drills — scheduled to last through Thursday of next week — as rehearsal for an invasion of its territory.
North Korean media said the drills are like “pouring gasoline on a fire” after the exchange of threats between leader Kim Jong-un and President Trump earlier this month.
The Saturday missile launch could rekindle the rhetorical spat with Washington, though analyst Yang Uk at the Korea Defense and Security Forum told AFP the latest launches by Pyongyang were “carefully calibrated . . . to avoid revving up tensions too high beyond its control.”
The US Pacific Command at first said all three North Korean missiles failed. That assessment proved incorrect.
None of the weapons landed anyplace near Guam, which the North has threatened to target.
The missile launches are believed to be the North’s first since July, when it successfully tested a pair of intercontinental ballistic missiles that analysts say could eventually reach the US mainland.
Those launches occurred while Kim Jong-un was overseeing a military exercise simulating an assault on South Korean islands.
Separately, China’s commerce ministry has banned North Korean nationals from setting up new businesses in the country, a step toward enforcing recent sanctions imposed by the UN, as Washington pressures Beijing to do more to curb its ally’s nuclear ambitions.
The ban is the latest attempt by China to dispel US concerns over its close ties with Pyongyang. In addition to prohibiting new businesses, it also nixes the expansion of any joint ventures involving North Koreans in China and states that new Chinese applications to invest in North Korea or increase existing investments will be rejected.
Businesses established by Pyongyang abroad are a crucial source of foreign exchange for the regime.
The ban followed an announcement earlier this month that Beijing would suspend its imports of iron, lead and seafood from North Korea.
-New York Post-