North Korea fires missile amid tension over Russia arms aid
North Korea fired two ballistic missiles towards the sea off its east coast on Friday, the South Korean military said, the latest in an unprecedented number of missile tests this year.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the missiles were fired from the Sunan area of North Korean capital Pyongyang. Japan’s coast guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile launch.
The launch comes five days after the isolated country fired two mid-range missiles in what it called an “important” test for the spy satellite programme it intends to complete by April.
A new round of tension erupted this week after the White House said on Thursday that North Korea completed an initial arms delivery of infantry rockets and missiles to a private Russian military company, the Wagner Group, to shore up Russian forces in Ukraine.
Wagner owner Yevgeny Prigozhin denied the assertion as “gossip and speculation”.
Pyongyang’s foreign ministry on Friday also denied a Japanese media report on munitions shipments to Russia, calling it “groundless”.
Tokyo Shimbun reported that North Korea had shipped artillery shells and other munitions to Russia via train last month, with additional shipments expected in coming weeks.
North Korea’s foreign ministry said it has never conducted arms transactions with Russia and criticised Washington for giving lethal weapons to Ukraine, with no mention of Wagner.