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A North Korean missile is launched in this image released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Jan. 28, 2022. North Korea fired another missile Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, marking its 20th round of testing so far this year.

A North Korean missile is launched in this image released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Jan. 28, 2022. North Korea fired another missile Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022, marking its 20th round of testing so far this year. (KCNA)

CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff told reporters through its messaging service Wednesday.

The launches happened just hours after Vice President Kamala Harris wrapped up a speech aboard a U.S. destroyer at Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, during which she condemned the North’s most recent launch on Sunday, along with aggressive actions by Moscow and Beijing.

South Korea’s military said Wednesday’s missiles were fired at around 6:10 p.m. and 6:20 p.m. from Pyongyang’s Sunan area. Sunan hosts North Korea’s international airport in the capital city, where the communist regime has carried out several rounds of weapons tests this year. The missiles were estimated to have flown roughly 223 miles at a peak altitude of about 18 miles.

North Korea’s actions “further strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities” of the U.S. and South Korean militaries and will “only deepen isolation from the international community,” the Joint Chiefs said in its message.

Japan’s Prime Minister’s office confirmed Wednesday’s test, saying in a news release it would “take all possible measures for precaution, including readiness for contingencies.”

The U.S. vice president landed in western Tokyo on Monday to attend a state funeral for slain former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe the following day. On Thursday, she’ll travel to South Korea, where she’s slated to meet with President Yoon Suk Yeol in Seoul before visiting the Demilitarized Zone between North and South Korea. Wednesday’s launches mark North Korea’s 20th round of testing so far this year, a record, after the communist regime fired a short-range missile on Sunday ahead of Harris’ visit to the region. The North is also suspected by intelligence officials of having made preparations to conduct its seventh nuclear test.

“None of these provocations have or will change our essential orientation,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said at a news briefing Wednesday in Washington, D.C.

“We have made clear together with our allies in the region that we are prepared for meaningful dialogue, meaningful diplomacy to help advance the prospects for a complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” he said. “This offer of dialogue and diplomacy has, at least so far, been met only with additional provocations.”

The latest test took place as the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group prepared to enter the final stretch of their four-day drills in the area with South Korean warships.

The goal of the exercise, which includes more than 20 ships from both countries, is to prepare “for North Korean provocations with an aim to improve capabilities” of the U.S. and South Korea, according to the South’s Ministry of National Defense.

“Our combined [South Korea]-U.S. naval force is demonstrating its strength and resolve by conducting this exercise together to build our combat readiness,” Rear Adm. Michael “Buzz” Donnelly, commander of Carrier Strike Group 5 and Task Force 70, said Monday in a Navy news release. The U.S. and South Korea “share one of the strongest alliances in the world and we grow stronger as an alliance because of our routine exercises here in South Korea and the close relationship and ties that we forge from operating at sea together,” he said.

David Choi is based in South Korea and reports on the U.S. military and foreign policy. He served in the U.S. Army and California Army National Guard. He graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles.

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