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North Korea Fires Off Ballistic Missile Warning Shots Just Before Kamala Harris Arrives at DMZ

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With Vice President Kamala Harris due in South Korea on Thursday, North Korea conducted a missile test Wednesday.

Two short-range ballistic missiles landed in the sea off of North Korea’s eastern coast, according to Reuters. The missiles flew about 225 miles, reaching a height of 19 miles, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.

“North Korea’s provocations will further strengthen the South Korean-U.S. deterrence and response capability, and only deepen North Korea’s isolation from the international community,” the Joint Chiefs said in a statement, according to Reuters.

“Our military maintains a full readiness posture and is closely cooperating with the US while strengthening surveillance and vigilance,” the statement said, according to the BBC.

Japanese Defense Minister Toshiro Ino called the launch “unacceptable,” according to Reuters.

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The missile launch came as U.S. and South Korean ships were conducting a four-day exercise off South Korea’s east coast, according to The Associated Press.

The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was among the ships in the exercise, the first joint exercise involving an aircraft carrier since 2017, the AP reported.

North Korea has ramped up its missile tests this year, with more than 30 launches of ballistic missiles, including the first intercontinental ballistic missile launches since 2017, according to the AP.

North Korea has also beefed up its rhetoric, recently passing a law supporting a preemptive first strike using nuclear weapons if the nation feels threatened, the AP reported.

Adding to the growing tensions, South Korea’s espionage agency has warned that North Korea might conduct a nuclear weapons test somewhere between mid-October and early November, the AP reported.

Soo Kim, an analyst at the Rand Corporation, said the latest launches are part of a campaign by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to ensure he is not marginalized.

“It’s North Korea’s way of showing defiance of the alliance,” she told Agence France-Presse, according to the BBC.

Should Kamala Harris be visiting the Demilitarized Zone?

As North Korea fired missiles, Harris planned a visit to the Demilitarized Zone, the heavily fortified buffer that separates the two Koreas.

News of that visit brought a round of mockery for Harris, considering one of her duties is supposed to involve managing the ongoing illegal immigration crisis on the U.S. southern border.

Meanwhile, Harris told The New York Times that her focus in South Korea will be differences with South Korea over American tax credits for electric vehicles as well as gender equity issues.

“I strongly believe that you can actually measure the state of a democracy based on the status of women in that democracy,” Harris said. “I do plan on bringing it up with him.”

She said she would raise issues of gender fairness in “all parts of the system, including government.”

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Harris will also have a discussion with several South Korean women to discuss gender fairness reforms and “actually address this issue in a systemic way.”

This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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