SEOUL－The Democratic People's Republic of Korea on Friday berated the United States for imposing fresh sanctions against it over its latest missile tests and warned of stronger and more explicit action if Washington maintains its "confrontational stance".
Later on Friday, the Republic of Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said the DPRK fired two short-range projectiles eastward.
Japan's Prime Minister's Office and the Defense Ministry also said they detected the launches and said it was possibly ballistic missiles.
This marked the DPRK's third projectile launch this year.
The DPRK said earlier this week that it successfully conducted a "hypersonic gliding warhead" test on Tuesday under the supervision of top leader Kim Jong-un.
In a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency, an unidentified Foreign Ministry spokesperson said Pyongyang's recent launches of hypersonic missiles were righteous exercises of self-defense.
The spokesperson said the new sanctions underscore hostile US intent aimed at "isolating and stifling" Pyongyang despite Washington's repeated calls for Pyongyang to resume diplomacy that has stalled over disagreements about sanctions relief and nuclear disarmament steps.
The administration of US President Joe Biden on Wednesday imposed sanctions on five DPRK officials over their roles in obtaining equipment and technology for the country's missile programs.
The announcement by the US Treasury Department came just hours after Pyongyang said Kim oversaw the successful test of a hypersonic missile on Tuesday.
The DPRK spokesperson also accused the US of maintaining a "gangster-like" stance, saying that Pyongyang's development of the new missile is part of its efforts to modernize its military and does not target any specific country or threaten the security of its neighbors.
"Nevertheless, the US is intentionally escalating the situation even with the activation of independent sanctions, not content with referring the DPRK's just activity to the United Nations Security Council," the spokesperson said.
"This shows that though the present US administration is trumpeting about diplomacy and dialogue, it is still engrossed in its policy for isolating and stifling the DPRK. ... If the US adopts such a confrontational stance, the DPRK will be forced to take stronger and certain reaction to it," the spokesperson said.
Hypersonic weapons, which fly at speeds in excess of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound, could pose a crucial challenge to missile defense systems because of their speed and maneuverability, The Associated Press said.
In an interview with MSNBC, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken called the DPRK's latest tests "profoundly destabilizing" and said the US was deeply engaged with the UN and key partners, including allies the ROK and Japan, on a response.
Pyongyang has so far rejected the idea of so-called open-ended talks, saying the US must first withdraw its "hostile policy", a term Pyongyang mainly uses to describe the sanctions and joint US-ROK military drills.