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North Korea fires two cruise missiles into waters off its west coast: South

Picture taken on January 17, 2022, and released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), shows test-firing of a tactical guided missile at an undisclosed location. (Via AFP)

North Korea has fired two cruise missiles toward the sea off its west coast, South Korea’s military says, as tensions continue on the Korean Peninsula.

The two projectiles were launched from the west coast town of Onchon, South Pyongan Province, early on Wednesday, a South Korean Defense Ministry source told Reuters.

The source added South Korean and US military authorities were analyzing details of the missiles' flight, including the range or altitude.

The latest launch, which is Pyongyang’s first weapons test since early last month, came a day after South Korea and the United States began a four-day preliminary joint drill in preparation for the long-suspended live field training which is set to be held from August 22 to September 1.

Dubbed Ulchi Freedom Shield, it will include field exercises involving aircraft, warships, tanks, and potentially tens of thousands of troops.

Pyongyang has frequently protested against joint military exercises involving Seoul and Washington, calling them rehearsals for invasion despite Washington's mantra of diplomacy.

The latest development also comes as South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has offered a wide-ranging aid package to North Korea on the condition of its denuclearization,  a proposal highly unlikely to be considered by Pyongyang.

North Korea has test-fired a record number of missiles this year amid claims by officials in Seoul and Washington that Pyongyang appears to be preparing to test a nuclear weapon for the first time since 2017.

North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test in September 2017. However, during inconclusive negotiations later with the US, it dismantled a nuclear facility and has not conducted any other nuclear tests since then.

The United States has warned that it would push for additional sanctions if Pyongyang conducted a seventh nuclear test.

Last month, the North’s leader Kim Jong-un said his country was “ready to mobilize” its nuclear deterrent in any future military conflict with the United States and Seoul.

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