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North Korea launches missiles for third time this month says South Korea

A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea’s missile launch during a news programme at the Seoul Railway Station in South Korea on Tuesday (Ahn Young-joon/AP)
A TV screen shows a file image of North Korea’s missile launch during a news programme at the Seoul Railway Station in South Korea on Tuesday (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

North Korea has fired multiple cruise missiles into waters off its western coast, South Korea’s military has said.

Tuesday’s third launch of such weapons this month comes as the North continues to flaunt its expanding arsenal of weapons designed to overwhelm its rivals’ defences.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the US and South Korea’s militaries were analysing the launches but did not immediately provide more details.

The launch followed tests on January 24 and 28 of the Pulhwasal-3-31 cruise missile North Korea says is designed to be fired from submarines.

South Korea Koreas Tensions
People in Seoul watch a new programme on the North Korea’s missile launch (Ahn Young-joon/AP)

Following the second launch, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un reiterated his goal of building a nuclear-armed navy to counter what he described as growing external threats. It is not yet clear if that launch was conducted from an actual submarine or an underwater barge.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at their highest point in years after Mr Kim accelerated his weapons development to an unprecedented pace while issuing provocative nuclear threats against the US, South Korea and Japan.

The US and its Asian allies have strengthened their combined military exercises, which are increasingly featuring US strategic assets such as aircraft carriers, long-range bombers and nuclear-powered submarines.

The countries are also sharpening their deterrence strategies with Seoul in particular seeking stronger assurances from Washington that the United States would swiftly and decisively use its nukes to defend its ally in the event of a North Korean nuclear attack.

On January 14, North Korea also tested a new solid-fuel intermediate-range missile, which underscored its efforts to advance its weapons that could target US assets in the Pacific, including the military hub of Guam.