North Korea fired two ballistic missiles toward the East Sea on Wednesday, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. They were launched from central North Korea and soared nearly 500 miles before landing in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The United States Indo-Pacific Command described the North Korean missile launch as “destabilizing” but said there was no “immediate threat to U.S. personnel or territory, or to our allies,” in a statement on Wednesday. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga called the launch “simply outrageous,” condemning it as a “threat to the peace and security” of the region and a clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions. Japan’s coast guard said no ships or aircraft reported damage from the missiles.
Wednesday’s launches came as Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi was in Seoul for meetings with South Korean President Moon Jae-in and other senior officials to discuss the stalled nuclear negotiations with the North. Analysts in Seoul saw the consecutive ballistic tests as a provocation on the heels of a strongly-worded statement released last month by Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. “The communist state is trying to show the world that they are keen on developing a weapons system, but at the same time is being careful not to break the nuclear moratorium,” Cha Du Hyeogn, a visiting research fellow at the Asan Institute for Policy Studies appreciated.