North Korea on Sunday reportedly test fired eight short-range ballistic missiles in what marks the country’s 18th round of missile tests in 2022.

The short-range missile tests were conducted from the Sunan area of the capital, Pyongyang, and the projectiles fell into the Sea of Japan outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ) as per South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and Japan’s defence ministry. The eight missiles were launched over a short period of 35 minutes, South Korea further said.

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The missile tests took place a day after the conclusion of joint military drills between the US and South Korea in the Philippine Sea, extending a streak that officials have warned could culminate in a nuclear test.

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Since the turn of the year, North Korea’s 18 missile tests have included the first demonstrations of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) in nearly five years, a show of the country’s long-range strike capabilities that demonstrated that Pyongyang’s potential to strike the US mainland.

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Pyongyang is reportedly pushing ahead with its nuclear programme too, and South Korean and US officials have said that preparations are ongoing at the nuclear test ground in the northeastern town of Punggye-ri.

If Pyongyang indeed goes ahead with a nuclear test, it would be the country’s seventh since 2006, and the first since 2017 when it claimed to have detonated a thermonuclear bomb capable of being fit on to the country’s long-range ICBMs.

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With North Korea increasingly demonstrating its military capabilities, South Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office last month, has called for the increase of bilateral military drills with the US.