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North Korea fires more ballistic missiles, warns may turn Pacific into 'firing range'

File photo shows a ballistic missile launch by North Korea.

North Korea has fired at least two ballistic missiles in its third major weapons test this year, while issuing stern warning to the US, saying it may turn the Pacific into its "firing range."

The South Korean military reported the launches on Monday, saying the missiles were fired towards the North's east coast.

Japan's Coast Guard at first said the North had launched three projectiles that could be ballistic missiles shortly after 2200 GMT. Later, however, it revised the number of missiles down to two. According to the Japanese broadcaster NHK, all the missiles landed outside the country's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

A few hours later, North Korea's official KCNA news agency confirmed the country had fired two projectiles from a multiple rocket launcher, aiming at targets 395 km (245 miles) and 337 km (209 miles) away, respectively.

"The 600mm multiple rocket launcher mobilized in the firing... is a means of tactical nuclear weapon," capable of "paralyzing" an enemy airfield, KCNA added.

Following the Monday missile launch, Kim Yo Jong, the sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, issued a statement, reacting to earlier joint aerial drills held by the United States with South Korea and Japan on Sunday.

She warned that Pyongyang might step up its military activities in response to increased presence of US' strategic assets on the Korean Peninsula.

"We are carefully examining the influence it would exert on the security of our state," she said, adding, "The frequency of using the Pacific as our firing range depends upon the US forces' action character."

The US and its allies claimed that Sunday drills were in reaction to North Korea's firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in a "sudden launching drill" on Saturday. The North fired the projectile on a written order by Kim Jong Un.

Kim's sister asserted that the North had succeeded in conducting the operation without South Korea even managing to fly its reconnaissance planes at the time of the launch.

"They will defend the fact that their scout planes didn't fly at the time by saying that they were monitoring with so-called special means and methods under close cooperation between intelligence authorities of South Korea and the US," she said.

Kim Yo Jong added that the North had "satisfactory" missile technology and capability, and "now will focus on increasing the quantity of their force."

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