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Seoul: North Korea fires more than 10 missiles after threat

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Seoul, South Korea — South Korea claims that North Korea fired a total of more than 10 missiles off its east and west coasts.

The South Korean military said the missiles of various types flew towards the east and west coasts of the Korean peninsula, but gave no further details.

Earlier, the South Korean military said it had detected the three North Korean short-range ballistic missiles fired off the east coast of the peninsula. One of the missiles landed near the rivals’ sea border, prompting South Korea to issue an air raid alert on one of its islands.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s previous story follows below.

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles out to sea on Wednesday, prompting South Korea to issue an air raid alert on its eastern island, heightening animosities between the rivals.

The launches came hours after North Korea issued a veiled threat to use nuclear weapons to make the US and South Korea ‘pay the most horrific price in history’ – an escalation of his fiery rhetoric targeting the ongoing large-scale military exercises between his rivals. .

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that North Korea fired the missiles from its eastern coastal area of ​​Wonsan on Wednesday morning.

Joint Chiefs of Staff said one of the missiles landed in international waters 26 kilometers (16 miles) south of Korea’s eastern maritime border and 167 kilometers (104 miles) north- west of Ulleung Island in South Korea. He said he issued the air raid alert on Ulleung Island.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff have said South Korea will not tolerate North Korean provocations and will deal with them harshly in close coordination with the United States. He said South Korea has strengthened its watchdog position over North Korea.

Animosities on the Korean peninsula have been running high in recent months, with North Korea testing a series of nuclear-capable missiles and passing legislation allowing the preemptive use of its nuclear weapons in a wide range of situations. Some experts still doubt that North Korea can use nuclear weapons first against American and South Korean forces.

North Korea has argued that its recent weapons tests were intended to issue a warning to Washington and Seoul about their series of joint military exercises that it sees as a rehearsal for an invasion, including this week’s drills. involving approximately 240 combat aircraft.

In a statement released early Wednesday, Pak Jong Chon, secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party and considered a close confidant of leader Kim Jong Un, called the so-called Air Force Vigilant Storm drills “a aggressive and provocative”.

Pak also accused the Pentagon of framing a collapse of the North Korean regime as a major policy goal in an apparent reference to the Pentagon’s recently released National Defense Strategy Report. The report said any nuclear attack by North Korea against the United States or its allies and partners “will bring about the end of this regime.”

He criticized South Korean military leaders for what he called “insane” comments that threatened to destroy North Korea if it used nuclear weapons.

South Korea’s military has warned North Korea that using its nuclear weapons would put it on a “path of self-destruction”.

“If the United States and South Korea try to use their armed forces against (North Korea) without any fear, the special means of the (North’s) armed forces will accomplish their strategic mission without delay,” Pak said. , in an apparent reference to the country’s nuclear weapons.

“The United States and South Korea will face a terrible bargain and pay the most horrific price in history,” he said.

US and South Korean officials have firmly stated that their exercises were defensive in nature and that they had no intention of attacking North Korea.

The White House on Tuesday rebuffed North Korea’s slashing, reiterating that the drills are part of a routine training program with South Korea.

“We reject the idea that they serve as any kind of provocation. We have made it clear that we have no hostile intentions towards (North Korea) and we call on them to engage in serious and sustained diplomacy,” the White House National Security Council spokeswoman said. , Adrienne Watson.

North Korea “continues not to respond. At the same time, we will continue to work closely with our allies and partners to limit the North’s ability to advance its illegal weapons programs and threaten regional stability,” Watson said.

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Associated Press writer Aamer Madhani in Washington, DC, contributed to this report.

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