Home Asia Pacific North Korea launches 8 ballistic missiles from 4 separate sites

North Korea launches 8 ballistic missiles from 4 separate sites

Hwasong-17 ICBM launch
Illustration; file photo

North Korea fired a total of eight short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) from four separate launch sites on June 5, defense ministries of South Korea and Japan confirmed.

According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS), the missile salvo was launched toward the East Sea, with missiles flying between 110 and 670 kilometers at altitudes of between 25 and 90 km.

Launch locations included Sunan in Pyongyang, Kaechon – which is to the north of the capital, Tongchang-ri, and Hamhung.

JCS billed the speed of the missiles at between Mach 3 and 6.

The assessment of Japan’s defense ministry was different from that of South Korea, with Japan saying that all of the missiles flew between 300 and 600 kilometers, with maximum altitudes reaching between 50 and 100 kilometers.

The North’s missile launch comes just a day after South Korea and the US Navy wrapped up a naval maneuver that involved US aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) off Okinawa, Japan.

Japan defense ministry graphic of the estimated sites of June 5 ballistic missile launches

Coinciding with North Korea’s launch was a bilateral ballistic missile defense exercise carried out by the US armed forces and the Japan Self Defense Forces on Sunday.

“This exercise further strengthens the bilateral deterrence and response capability that is based on a strong Japan-US alliance. The JSDF and US Armed Forces routinely work together and maintain high levels of operational readiness in order to respond to regional threats while defending our nations, and to further strengthen regional peace and stability,” the US Indo-Pacific Command (INDOPACOM) said in a statement.

In a separate press release, INDOPACOM said it was “aware of the DPRK’s multiple ballistic missile launches,” adding that the command was “consulting closely” with its allies and partners.

“While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies, these missile launches highlight the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s illicit weapons program.”

While the launch of eight ballistic missiles in a single day is likely without precedent, it is actually the 18th such move conducted by North Korea this year. What is more, this was the third missile launch carried since South Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol assumed his duty on May 10.

Update: Following North Korea’s missile launch, the US military announced it had conducted a combined live-fire exercise with the Republic of Korea military.

This exercise used one US Army missile and seven ROK missiles, which were fired from the northeast of South Korea into the Sea of Japan.