BEIJING, May 19 (Xinhuanet) -- South Korea’s Defense Ministry has confirmed that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea launched three short-range guided missiles on Saturday. The Ministry said it detected two launches in the morning, followed by another in the afternoon. It said the missiles were fired in a north-easterly direction away from South Korean waters.
Tensions intensified on the Korean peninsula.
South Korea’s defense ministry estimated that the launched missiles had a range of 120 kilometers and could possibly be the KN-02 surface-to-surface missile.
Though South Korea has beefed up its defenses, the speculation is that the missile launches may be part of training exercises or a test launch .
"The DPRK fired a total of three guided missiles, two on Saturday morning and one in the afternoon, into its eastern waters in a northeasterly direction. It seems like these projectiles are short-range rather than mid- or long-range like the Musudan missile. Our military is strengthening our watch on the DPRK in case of additional launches and possible provocations from the North, whilst keeping our full readiness posture." said Kim Min-Seok, Spokesman of South Korean Defense Ministry.
In March, the DPRK launched what appeared to be two KN-02 missiles off its east coast. Experts believe the country is trying to improve the range and accuracy of its arsenal.
A report from the US Defense Department says the DPRK could possess up to 200 mobile missile launchers, including up to 50 long-range launchers.
The latest launches came during a period of tentative diplomacy aimed at easing tensions. On Friday, an adviser to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe returned from the DPRK. This past week, Glyn Davies, the top U.S. envoy on the DPRK, ended trips to South Korea, China and Japan.
Earlier this year, the DPRK threatened nuclear strikes on Seoul and Washington because of the annual US-South Korean military drills and UN sanctions imposed over its third nuclear test in February.
In April, the DPRK moved missile launchers to its east coast for a possible launch of a mid-range Musudan missile, which was believed to be capable of reaching Guam. These were later pulled back.