North Korea launches “likely” ballistic missiles, U.S. official says

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North Korea on Thursday fired two projectiles that are “most likely” short range ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan, a U.S. official said. 

A short range ballistic missile launch would be a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions, marking a slight ratcheting up from last weekend’s launch of two short range cruise missiles, which are not banned by sanctions, according to a U.S. official. 

South Korea’s military also said it had detected the launch of two projectiles Thursday, but didn’t say what type.

Over the weekend, North Korea launched two cruise missiles west into the Yellow Sea in the first known weapons test during the Biden administration. 

Senior officials from the Biden administration called the weekend launch “normal” activity.

The launches come just after Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited the region in the first overseas trip conducted by the Biden administration. 

Blinken confirmed that the Biden administration has been reaching out to Pyongyang since mid-February but has not received a response. A senior administration official said there had been “no active dialogue” with North Korea despite “multiple attempts” by the U.S. to engage with them over the past year during both the Biden and the Trump administrations.

Senior officials said Tuesday that the administration was in the final stages of a North Korea policy review and that the weekend launches did not close the door for dialogue between the two countries.

Eleanor Watson contributed reporting.

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