N. Korea fires 2 short-range ballistic missiles ahead of Harris’ visit to South

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un addresses the Supreme People’s Assembly, North Korea’s parliament, which passed a law officially enshrining its nuclear weapons policies, in Pyongyang on Sept 8 in this photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency.

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, the South’s military said, just a day before U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris is set to arrive in Seoul.

After a stop in Japan, Harris is set to arrive in the South Korean capital and visit the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) between the neighbors on Thursday.

Japan’s coast guard also reported a suspected ballistic missile test.

The launch came two days after South Korea and U.S. forces launched a military drill in waters off the South’s east coast involving an aircraft carrier. On Sunday, North Korea had fired another ballistic missile towards the sea off its east coast.

In a speech hours earlier aboard the destroyer USS Howard destroyer in the Japanese city of Yokosuka, Harris said Sunday’s launch was part of an “illicit weapons program which threatens regional stability and violates multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions.”

Since 2006, North Korea has been subject to U.N. sanctions, which the Security Council has steadily, and unanimously, stepped up over the years to cut off funding for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

North Korea rejects the U.N. resolutions as an infringement of its sovereign right to self-defense and space exploration, and has criticized military exercises by the United States and South Korea as proof of their hostile intentions.

Outside Japan’s EEZ

In Tokyo, the Defense Ministry announced Wednesday evening that North Korea fired two ballistic missiles from an area near the west coast of the country toward the Sea of Japan and they were believed to have fallen outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

The ministry is analyzing details of the missiles as they may have taken an irregular trajectory. There is no damage reported to aircraft, ships and others.