North Korea nuclear program
North Korea nuclear programiStock

North Korea on Tuesday fired artillery shells near its sea boundaries with South Korea, a day after the South began annual military drills to better deal with North Korean provocations, The Associated Press reported.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement early Wednesday that North Korea fired about 100 shells off its west coast and 150 rounds off its east coast. It said the South Korean military broadcast messages several times asking North Korea to stop the firing, but there were no reports of violence between the rivals.

South Korea’s military said the shells did not land in South Korean territorial waters but fell inside maritime buffer zones the two Koreas established under a 2018 inter-Korean agreement aimed at reducing front-line animosities.

The Korean People's Army (KPA) General Staff said the South's "war drill against the north is going on in a frantic manner".

"In order to send a serious warning once again, it made sure that KPA units on the east and west fronts conducted a threatening, warning fire toward the east and west seas in the night of Oct. 18, as a powerful military countermeasure," it said in a statement released by North Korea’s official news agency, KCNA, as quoted by Reuters.

"The enemies should immediately stop the reckless and inciting provocations escalating the military tension in the forefront area."

The firing of the shells follows a series of ballistic missile tests that North Korea has conducted in recent weeks.

Last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the launch of two long-range strategic cruise missiles.

Three days earlier, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters. That launch came three days after it fired two ballistic missiles from the Samsok area in Pyongyang towards the East Sea, also known as the Sea of Japan.

Days earlier, North Korea fired an Intermediate Range Ballistic Missile over Japan. Officials and analysts said that missile was a Hwasong-12 that travelled likely the longest horizontal distance of any North Korean test before.

North Korea has tested more than 30 ballistic weapons in 2022, including its first intercontinental ballistic missiles since 2017, as it continues to expand its military capabilities amid a prolonged stalemate in nuclear diplomacy.

Last month, North Korea passed a law officially enshrining its nuclear weapons policies. Kim said at the time the new legislation makes the country’s nuclear status "irreversible" and bars any negotiation on denuclearization.