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Roundup: S.Korea says DPRK fires 3 ballistic missiles eastward

SEOUL, May 25 (Xinhua) -- The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) fired three ballistic missiles eastward, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said Wednesday.

The JCS said it detected the missiles fired into the eastern waters from the Sunan area in Pyongyang at about 6:00 a.m., 6:37 a.m. and 6:42 a.m. local time respectively, marking the 17th projectile launches by the DPRK this year.

The first missile, presumed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), traveled some 360 km at an altitude of about 540 km, while the second one was lost around the 20-km apogee.

The third one, believed to be a short-range ballistic missile, flew about 760 km at an altitude of some 60 km.

According to the JCS, the signs of the DPRK's ballistic missile launches were already spotted on Tuesday.

In preparation for the launches, the South Korean air force conducted the "Elephant Walk" taxing exercise involving about 30 fully-armed F-15K fighter jets.

The missile units of South Korea and the United States fired one Hyunmoo-II ballistic missile and one Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) missile each into the eastern waters to show the "rapid strike capabilities" of the combined forces, the JCS noted.

The DPRK's test-launches came just a day after U.S. President Joe Biden wrapped up his Asia tour to South Korea and Japan.

South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin consulted over phone with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken about the DPRK's missile launches, according to the South Korean foreign ministry.

The JCS called the DPRK ICBM launch a "provocative act", saying the South Korean military was monitoring relevant situation in preparation for possibly additional launches.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol presided over a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) to be briefed on the missile launches and the defense preparedness, according to the presidential office.

Yoon ordered the meeting participants, including senior presidential secretaries on security and ministers of defense, unification and foreign affairs, to act in tightening sanctions against the DPRK.

The president, who took office on May 10, vowed to strengthen defense cooperation between South Korea and the United States.

In a separate statement, the South Korean government strongly condemned the DPRK missile launches, urging Pyongyang to respond to dialogue offers for the settlement of peace on the peninsula.