North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the sea on Wednesday just one day before Vice President Kamala Harris’ scheduled visit to the demilitarized zone (DMZ) between North Korea and South Korea.
U.S. Indo-Pacific Command confirmed in a statement that North Korea launched two missiles ahead of Harris’ arrival in South Korea.
“We are aware of the two ballistic missile launches and are consulting closely with our allies and partners. While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies, the missile launch highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs,” the statement read. “The U.S. commitments to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remain ironclad.”
According to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, the missiles were launched from North Korea’s capital city Pyongyang between 6:10 and 6:20 p.m. local time, Reuters reported. The missiles reached an altitude of 19 miles and flew 225 miles with a maximum velocity of Mach 6.
“North Korea’s provocations will further strengthen the South Korean-U.S. deterrence and response capability, and only deepen North Korea’s isolation from the international community,” the Joint Chiefs said in a statement.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol’s office said in a statement that the South Korea’s national security council held an emergency meeting and condemned the missile launches while promising to continue deterrence efforts.
Vice President Harris’ planned visit to the DMZ was first announced by South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo during a meeting with Harris on Tuesday.
“I think your visit to DMZ in Seoul is a real — a very symbolic demonstration of your strong commitment to the security and peace on the Korean Peninsula,” Han said. “And we are working with you and U.S. in dealing with North Korea when they actually made very public that they will be aggressive in using nuclear power. So, you know, it was very rare that some country is actually making explicit how they will use nuclear — you know, nuclear ambitions in such an explicit way.”
Han’s comment came ahead of the White House’s own plans to announce the visit.