(ATTN: ADDS responses from S. Korean presidential office in paras 8-9)
By Song Sang-ho
SEOUL, Sept. 29 (Yonhap) -- North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) into the East Sea on Thursday, South Korea's military said, in its third such provocation in less than a week.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected the launches from the Sunchon area in South Pyongan Province between 8:48 p.m. and 8:57 p.m., and that the missiles flew some 350 kilometers at apogees of around 50 km at top speeds of Mach 5.
The intelligence authorities of South Korea and the United States are conducting a detailed analysis to verify the specifics of the missiles, the JCS said.
The missiles are thought to have been fired from the transporter erector launcher (TEL), according to informed sources.
JCS Chairman Gen. Kim Seung-kyum and Gen. Paul LaCamera, the commander of the South Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command, held virtual consultations on the launches.
"The recent series of North Korea's ballistic missile launches is an act of significant provocation that undermines peace and stability not only on the Korean Peninsula but also in the international community, and a clear breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions," the JCS said in a text message sent to reporters.
It added, "Our military will maintain a firm readiness posture while tracking and monitoring related movements in close cooperation with the U.S. in preparation against additional provocations."
Shortly after the launches, President Yoon Suk-yeol was briefed about the latest developments and National Security Adviser Kim Sung-han chaired an emergency meeting of the presidential National Security Council (NSC), the presidential office said.
Kim and other senior security officials in attendance vowed stern responses to such successive provocative moves by the North, and pledged to work closely with partner nations and the international community for active countermeasures such as toughening sanctions, it added.
Hours earlier, U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris wrapped up a daylong visit to South Korea, during which she met with President Yoon Suk-yeol and toured the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) bisecting the two Koreas. She reaffirmed America's security commitment to the East Asian ally.
The North fired a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM) on Sunday and two SRBMs on Wednesday.
The latest launch came as South Korea and the United States concluded a high-profile naval exercise, involving the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier in the East Sea, on Thursday and are set to hold an anti-submarine training with Japan the following day.
Ahead of the trilateral training, the U.S. Forces Korea (USFK) posted a video clip on Facebook, in which warplanes take off and touch down on the massive deck of USS Ronald Reagan during the day and at night.
In the post, the USFK highlighted "extended deterrence" as America's "around-the-clock" and "steadfast" commitment to the defense of South Korea.
Seoul and Washington have been cranking up security coordination amid concerns that Pyongyang could engage in provocative acts, such as a nuclear experiment and a submarine-launched ballistic missile test.