South Korea and the United States launches missiles in response to Pyongyang's tests

Seoul and Washington fired eight surface-to-surface missiles towards the sea off the southeast coast of South Korea early Monday, a South Korean Defense Ministry official said, a day after North Korea launched a barrage of short-range ballistic missiles.

South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted the South Korean military as saying this action was evidence of "the ability and readiness to deliver a precision strike" to North Korea's missile launch source or command and support centers.

South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol, who took office last month, vowed to take a tougher stance on North Korea and agreed with his US counterpart, Joe Biden, at the May summit in Seoul to modernize joint military exercises and joint deterrence.

Yonhap said the armies of South Korea and the United States fired eight missiles within about 10 minutes of 4:45 a.m. Monday (1945 GMT Sunday) in response to North Korea's launch of a similar number of missiles on Sunday.

A South Korean Defense Ministry official confirmed the eight missiles were fired.

North Korea's launch of short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast on Sunday is likely to be its biggest single test, and comes a day after South Korea and the United States ended joint military exercises.

North Korea, which for several weeks has been battling the first known spread of COVID-19, criticized the previous joint exercises as an example of the "hostile policies" that Washington continues to pursue toward Pyongyang despite its talk of diplomacy.

North Korea has conducted a series of missile launches this year, from hypersonic weapons to launching its largest intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time in nearly five years.

Officials in Washington and Seoul also recently warned that North Korea appeared ready to resume nuclear weapons tests for the first time since 2017.

Last month, North Korea launched three missiles, including one believed to be its largest ICBM, after Biden concluded a trip to Asia, where he agreed to new measures to deter the nuclear-armed nation.

The joint forces of South Korea and the United States also fired missiles in response to those tests, which they say are a violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

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