© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un provides field guidance at the Seohae satellite launch site in North Korea, in this photo released by the North Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on March 11, 2022. KCNA via REUTERS

By Josh Smith and Minwoo Park

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea appeared to have fired a short-range missile launcher on Sunday, the South Korean military said amid heightened military tensions in the peninsula following a spate of larger missile launches by the nuclear-armed north.

While attracting far less attention than the massive intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), North Korea has in recent years showcased several new types of multi-launch missile systems, adding to an already large arsenal of artillery and missiles, ideally for potentially high-profile targets in the south.

“There was firing in North Korea this morning, believed to have fired multiple rocket launchers, and our military has been monitoring the related situation and standing by,” South Korea’s joint chiefs of staff said in a statement. to work.

The North Korean military fired four rounds at around 7:20 a.m. (2220 GMT on Saturday) for about an hour toward the west coast from an unidentified location in South Pyongan province, the Yonhap news agency reported.

South Korea’s National Security Council held an emergency meeting of deputy ministers about the launches.

Last year, South Korea approved plans to pursue a $2.6 billion artillery interception system, similar to Israel’s “Iron Dome,” designed to protect against North Korea’s arsenal of long-range guns and missiles.

About half of South Korea’s 52 million residents live in the capital Seoul and surrounding areas, within range of its neighbors’ long-range guns and multiple rocket launchers.

Pyongyang has carried out an unusually high rate of rocket launches this year.

South Korea and the United States warn that the North could resume testing of its largest ICBMs for the first time since 2017 amid stalled denuclearization talks. North Korea also appears to be preparing to launch a spy satellite, and new construction has been spotted at the sealed-off nuclear test site.

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