North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles on Thursday that could be copies of the Russian Iskander missiles, a leading Japanese military expert and a senior researcher at the Research Center for Advanced Science and Technology at Tokyo University, Yu Koizumi, told TASS.
"I believe these were short-range ballistic missiles, which we call KN-23," the expert said. "This is the North Korean copy of the missile that is called Iskander in Russia. They can be identified, as it seems to me, by the typical low flight path."
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff reported that these missiles climbed to the highest point of 60 km and flew to a range of 450 km, the expert said.
The Japanese side has not given any data on the altitude of the missiles’ flight but "has determined their flight range at 450 km. Therefore, these data coincide," he said.
"North Korea has been launching missiles of this type since 2019 and the previous US administration under President Donald Trump did not object to that," the expert noted.
"That is why, Pyongyang has now decided after a long break also to begin with the launches of short-range missiles to see the US reaction, as it seems to me" he said.
North Korea launched two ballistic missiles towards the Sea of Japan on Thursday for the first time since March 29 last year. The test-launches were registered by Japan’s Coast Guard and confirmed by the South Korean and US militaries.
Tokyo has not identified any damage to fishing vessels after these launches. North Korea launched its missiles on the day when the Olympic torch relay kicked off in Japan. Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga slammed the missile launches as a direct violation of the UN resolutions on North Korea. He said that Pyongyang’s actions threatened regional security. Tokyo voiced its protest to North Korea via diplomatic channels in Beijing over the missile launches.