North Korea conducts second missile test in less than a week

North Korea firing a long-range cruise missile in undated photos supplied by Korean Central News Agency on Sept 13, 2021. PHOTOS: REUTERS

SEOUL (BLOOMBERG, REUTERS) - North Korea test-fired what appeared to be two ballistic missiles, in Pyongyang's second major weapons test in less than a week.

South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said North Korea fired two ballistic missiles into waters off the eastern coast of the peninsula on Wednesday (Sept 15) afternoon.

That matched a separate statement from the Japan Coast Guard, saying it had detected two projectiles that landed outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone.

The launch comes after North Korea said it fired new, long-range cruise missiles over the weekend in the latest sign the regime was trying to bolster its capability for nuclear strikes against Japan and South Korea.

Analysts say the missile could be the country's first such weapon with a nuclear capability.

Pyongyang has been steadily developing its weapons programme amid a stand-off over talks aimed at dismantling its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes in return for United States sanctions relief. The negotiations have stalled since 2019.

The United Nations nuclear watchdog said North Korea had resumed from around July plutonium-producing operations at its Yongbyon nuclear facility.

US nuclear envoy Sung Kim met with Japanese and South Korean counterparts on Tuesday in Tokyo.

Meanwhile, China's foreign minister Wang Yi has been discussing North Korea's nuclear programme during a trip to Seoul.

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