People watch a television screen showing a news broadcast with file footage of a North Korean missile test
North Korea Mobilizes Military Medics As Country's COVID-19 Cases Surge Photo by Jung Yeon-Je/AFP via Getty Images

Three ballistic missiles were launched by North Korea on Wednesday just hours after U.S. President Joe Biden ended his Asian trip. South Korea’s government suspects one of the missiles is an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that flew across the waters off North Korea’s eastern coast. The missiles were launched near Pyongyang and flew one after the other between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m.

According to ABC News, the test launch may have possibly included two short-range weapons and an intercontinental ballistic missile, with the test launch much speculated by US intelligence to take place during Biden's Asian trip. Japan’s Ministry of Defense said the first of three missiles that were fired reached a maximum altitude of 550 kilometers and traveled for 300 kilometers. The second one failed to reach an altitude of 20 kilometers while the third flew 750 kilometers but on a lower apogee of 50 kilometers before both missiles landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said they had boosted their surveillance and maintained military readiness in coordination with the United States in anticipation of North Korea’s move. Newly-elected South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol called an emergency meeting with the National Security Council to discuss the launch to ensure that the government is maintaining a state of constant readiness to “effectively respond to any kind of North Korean provocation”.

“North Korea’s sustained provocations can only result in stronger and faster South Korea-U.S. combined deterrence and can only deepen North Korea’s international isolation,” a statement from the South Korean government statement read.

Meanwhile, the US Indo-Pacific Command said the missile launches were not an immediate threat to U.S. territory and other allied countries, but it clearly shows the destabilizing impact of North Korea’s weapons program. A statement from the command said the U.S. commitment to the defense of South Korea and Japan "remains ironclad”.

Japan’s Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi accused the North Korean government of ignoring the people’s suffering amid a coronavirus outbreak in their country calling the missile launch an act of provocation that is “absolutely impermissible”. As the summit came to a close in Seoul, Biden and Yoon said both countries are considering expanding their military exercises to deter any threats and further provocations from North Korea.

U.S. President Joe Biden
U.S. President Joe Biden waves as he boards Air Force One to leave Japan after his South Korea trip at Osan Air Force Base on May 22, 2022 in Pyeongtaek, South Korea. U.S. President Joe Biden and President Yoon Suk-yeol agreed to begin discussions on expanding joint military exercises between the two countries amid growing nuclear and missile threats from North Korea. Photo by Kim Hong-Ji - Pool/Getty Images

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