North Korea conducts third missile launch in two weeks amid rising tensions

The North Korean regime launched two ballistic missiles Friday — its third missile test in two weeks — amid rising international concern over the nation’s weapons programs.

The missiles were short-range ballistic projectiles, reports said.

​”Two short-range ballistic missiles took off from Uiju, a county near the northwestern corner of North Korea, and flew 267 miles before crashing off the country’s east coast, the South Korean military said,” according to The New York Times.

The outlet added: “The missiles were launched from train cars and hit targets on an island off the east coast, North Korea’s state media reported on Saturday.”

As NBC News reported, the missile launch comes as the North Korean regime has continued to develop its weapons systems — including missiles that could deliver nuclear warheads — despite admonitions and threats of sanctions from Western leaders.

The system tested Friday “demonstrated high manoeuvrability and rate of hits,” and resulted in talks to “set up proper railway-borne missile operating system across the country,” the North Korean state-run Korean Central News Agency said.

And the test occurred just days after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw a hypersonic missile test launch on Tuesday that Kim said would increase the nation’s nuclear “war deterrent,” according to Fox News.

On Friday, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said it was aware of the latest missile launch.

“We are aware of the ballistic missile launch and are consulting closely with our allies and partners,” officials said in a statement. “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 [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s] illicit weapons program.

“The U.S. commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad,” the statement added.

Fox News reported that the missile launch came after the U.S. proposed more sanctions.

“A senior U.S. U.N. official told reporters that the U.S. on Wednesday proposed that the 1718 Committee, which deals with sanctions on North Korea, designate five individuals for sanctions on the heels of recent treasury and state designations,” the outlet said. “The individuals have ties to North Korea’s weapons program, having helped develop or acquire materials and technology.

“The official said the U.S. is prepared to engage and support serious and sustained diplomacy, but that North Korea must ‘choose’ diplomacy and dialogue over its ‘unlawful and threatening’ weapons program,” Fox added.

Pentagon press secretary John Kirby expressed similar sentiments.

“I think we’ve made clear that we’re willing to sit down and talk about these issues with North Korea,” Kirby told reporters. “Our priority is – we already have security commitments on the peninsula, and our job here at DOD is to make sure that we are able to meet those commitments to the best of our ability.”