Kim Jong Un says he will react with nuclear weapons to enemy threats 0:46
SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) --
SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) --
North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into the waters off its east coast on Sunday, the latest in what has been a record year for test launches by the Kim Jong regime. A.
The launches, reported by authorities in South Korea and Japan, marked the 35th day this year that North Korea conducted a missile test.
They come after North Korea's claim on Friday that it had successfully tested a solid-fuel rocket engine, a development that could lead to the Kim regime being able to fire an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) more quickly. and reliable in the future.
North Korea claims it has successfully tested a rocket that could bolster its intercontinental missile force
North Korea's most recent known missile test was on November 18, when it launched a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile.
Japanese authorities said the missiles fired on Sunday reached an altitude of 550 kilometers (342 miles) and flew a distance of 500 kilometers (311 miles), suggesting they were not long-range ballistic weapons.
The South Korean military identified them as MRBMs, Medium Range Ballistic Missiles.
He called the launches "a serious provocation that harms peace and stability on the Korean peninsula as well as the international community" and said they were in clear violation of UN Security Council resolutions.
Japan's Vice Defense Minister Toshiro Ino said the missiles fell into the sea and no damage to aircraft or ships in the area has been reported so far.
He said the Japanese government had lodged a protest with North Korea through diplomatic channels.
Both South Korea and the United States urged North Korea to immediately stop its missile tests.
North Korea has been testing missiles and components of a variety of sizes this year.
North Korea plans 'world's most powerful' nuclear force, says Kim Jong Un
Ankit Panda, a nuclear policy expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told CNN last week that the pace of testing this year shows that Pyongyang has become a missile power.
"The big picture is that North Korea is literally becoming a leading operator of large-scale missile forces," Panda said.
"The word test is no longer appropriate to talk about most North Korean missile launches," Panda said.
“Most of the missiles launched this year are part of military exercises.
They are rehearsing for nuclear war.
And that, I think, is the big picture this year.”
Panda and other analysts point out that North Korea's missile tests follow an ambitious plan that Kim laid out in 2021 that seeks to make the country a powerhouse in this area.
The latest tests come just days after the establishment of a new US Space Force command in South Korea.
The new unit, based at Osan Air Base south of Seoul, "will be tasked with coordinating space operations and services, such as missile warning, position and weather navigation, and satellite communications within the region,” according to the US Military in Korea.
Asked what potential adversaries like Pyongyang could achieve by forming such a unit, the commander of the Korean Space Forces, Lt. Col. Joshua McCullion, said he hoped it would have a deterrent effect.
“The hope is that they see that we are ready,” he said.