North Korea fires suspected short-range missiles into ocean in its latest weapons launch, Seoul says

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea fired multiple suspected short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters on Monday, South Korea's military said, the latest in a recent series of weapons launches by the North.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that it detected the launches from North Korea's capital region but gave no further details, such as how far the weapons flew. It said South Korea has strengthened its surveillance posture and maintains a firm readiness in close coordination with the United States and Japan.

Japan also confirmed the launches, with the office of Prime Minister Fumio Kishida instructing officials to employ maximum efforts to gather information and ensure the safety of aircraft and vessels, according to a statement released on X, formerly called Twitter.

North Korea in recent months has been maintaining an accelerated pace in weapons testing as it continues to expand its military capabilities amid stalemated diplomacy with the United States and South Korea.

North Korea announced Saturday that it tested a “super-large” cruise missile warhead and a new anti-aircraft missile in a western coastal area on Friday. Earlier in April, North Korea also test-launched what it called a solid-fuel intermediate-range missile with hypersonic warhead capabilities, a weapon that experts say is meant to attack remote enemy targets in the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam and beyond.

In response to North Korea's evolving nuclear threats, the United States and South Korea have been strengthening their bilateral military drills and trilateral exercises with Japan.

On Monday, the chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, Kim Myung-soo, met with U.S. Space Command Commander Stephen N. Waiting for discussions on countering North Korean threats, according to South Korea's military.

Some experts earlier said North Korea could launch major provocations such as a banned satellite launch this month to mark key state anniversaries — the April 15 birthday of state founder Kim Il Sung, the late grandfather of Kim Jong Un, and the April 25 founding anniversary of a predecessor of the North’s military.

South Korea’s military said Monday that it has detected evidence that North Korea is preparing for its second spy satellite launch but there are no signs that a launch is imminent.

Hyung-jin Kim And Kim Tong-hyung, The Associated Press