North Korea launched two ballistic missiles Thursday, March 10 around 5:20 a.m. Korea Time. Each missile traveled about 310 miles from the country’s north shore into the sea east of the Korean Peninsula. According to NBC News, the missiles are believed to be Scud-type missiles.
This is the third sort of test the country has done in 2016; according to NBC News, they had their fourth nuclear bomb test in January and another test launch in February. CNN reported that the country foreshadowed these launches when it announced it has the miniature nuclear bombs needed to fit onto missiles for wide scale launches.
These missile launches happened amid rising tensions between North and South Korea. On Monday, March 7, NBC News reported that North Korea threatened to launch missiles at Seoul, the South Korean capital, and Washington D.C. in what it calls “a pre-emptive nuclear strike of justice.” These threats were in direct response to the start of training exercises between the US and South Korea. In a statement from the North’s Defense Commission, they accused the US and the South of “working with bloodshot eyes to infringe upon the dignity, sovereignty and vital rights” of the North. The statement continued, “If we push the buttons to annihilate the enemies even right now, all bases of provocations will be reduced to seas in flames and ashes in a moment.”
NBC News noted there has been a major debate on whether the North actually has the capabilities to launch such powerful missiles and nuclear bombs. The North has been making progress with every launch it has conducted, but those launches are still not at the needed quality for a legitimate attack.
In reaction to the launches, the Korean Central News Agency, announced that all economic deals and business transactions between the North and South are now invalid. The KCNA also said that the North’s capital, Pyongyang, “will completely liquidate all South Korean companies and relevant assets” in its borders. According to CNN, Seoul responded by saying they wouldn’t agree to the declaration, and called it “provocative action.”
Reports from CNN, NBC News and Reuters claim all of these actions come after the UN imposed harsh sanctions on North Korea as punishment for nuclear tests and rocket launches in early January and February. The sanctions include required inspections of any cargo whatsoever that leaves or enters North Korea; a ban on all movements of small arms and light weapons to the North and the expulsion of any North Korean diplomats caught in “illicit activities.”
Reuters has said that in response to the latest tests, a spokeswoman for the U.S. State Department, Katina Adams, repeated the plea to North Korea “to refrain from provocative actions and rhetoric that aggravate tensions and instead focus on fulfilling its international obligations and commitments.” Along with Adams, U.S. Secretary General, Ban Ki-Moon, called the actions “destabilizing,” and South Korea’s Unification Ministry’s spokesman, Jeong Joon-hee, considered North Korea’s actions “rash and thoughtless behavior.”
Editor’s Note: Information from Reuters, CNN and NBC News was used in this report.