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North Korea Launches Short-Range Missiles, U.S. Military Says

by Courtney Kube, Stella Kim and Phil Helsel /  / Updated 
Image: FILE PHOTO: North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un watches a military drill marking the 85th anniversary of the establishment of the Korean People's Army on April 26, 2017.KCNA / via Reuters file

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North Korea on Saturday morning fired what are believed to be three short-range ballistic missiles, one of which exploded shortly after launch, the U.S. Pacific Command said.

The missiles were launched near Kittaeryong between 6:49 a.m. Seoul time (5:49 pm. Friday ET) and 12:19 p.m. The second missile "appears to have blown up almost immediately," Pacific Command said.

The military initially said the other two missiles "failed in flight," but Pacific Command spokesman Dave Benham later said those missiles flew around 155 miles in a northeast direction.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command determined that none of the missiles posed a threat to North America or Guam, Pacific Command said.

North Korea has conducted several ballistic missile tests this year, which are prohibited by United Nations sanctions, including two tests of intercontinental ballistic missiles that have heightened tensions in the region.

North Korea has also conducted five nuclear tests, including two last year.

U.S. President Donald Trump earlier this month warned that North Korea would be met with "fire and fury" if it threatens the United States. The comments came after reports that North Korea had developed a nuclear weapon small enough to fit on a missile.

"We continue to monitor North Korea's actions closely," Pacific Command said. "U.S. Pacific Command stands behind our ironclad commitment to the security of our allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan."

The latest launch comes during an annual joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea that the North condemns as an invasion rehearsal, and weeks after Pyongyang threatened to lob missiles toward the Pacific U.S. territory of Guam.

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