North Korea fires three ballistic missiles, Seoul says

SEOUL, July 18 (UPI) — North Korea test fired three ballistic missiles early Tuesday.

South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said Pyongyang launched three projectiles between 5:45 a.m. and 6:40 a.m., from an area near the North Korean city of Hwangju and aimed for the Sea of Japan, or the East Sea.

The missiles flew for about 310-370 miles, a distance that is more than sufficient to hit any part of South Korea, Seoul said.

The missiles are believed to be Scud-C short-range ballistic missiles, South Korean news service Money Today reported.

North Korea has not launched a short-range Scud missile since March, and the provocation is believed to be a reaction to a July 8 decision to deploy a U.S. anti-missile defense system in South Korea, according to local press reports.

Last week Pyongyang had vowed to “physically” respond to the deployment of THAAD in South Korea.

“We once again warn the enemies that it is the steadfast will of the Korean People’s Army to make merciless retaliatory strikes to reduce South Korea to a sea of flames and debris once an order is issued,” the statement from Pyongyang’s general staff department’s military artillery bureau had read.

South Korea’s joint chiefs had said it was maintaining preparedness while closely monitoring the situation.

In Japan, Defense Minister Gen Nakatani called a special meeting on the provocations.

Tokyo has not yet confirmed whether the missiles launched Tuesday pose a threat to Japan, according to local television network NHK.

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