North Korea conducts missile launch into sea after US bomber drills

The truce village of Panmunjom inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating the two Koreas

SEOUL/TOKYO (Reuters) -North Korea fired at least two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea on Wednesday, South Korea's military said, hours after the U.S. separately deployed B-1B bombers for allied air drills.

Japan's defence ministry also reported that at least one suspected ballistic missile was launched, while Japanese media reported that two missiles were fired and landed outside Japan's exclusive economic zone (EEZ).

"Our military has strengthened surveillance and vigilance in preparation for additional provocations, and is maintaining full readiness through close cooperation between Korea and the United States," South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.

The launch comes a day before South Korea and the U.S. wrap up 11 days of combined military drills, which Pyongyang has denounced.

The B-1B bombers conducted separate air drills with warplanes from South Korea and Japan earlier on Wednesday.

North Korea's ballistic missiles are banned by United Nations Security Council resolutions that have imposed strict sanctions on the nuclear-armed country.

The U.S. is concerned that arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea are actively advancing, White House national security spokesperson John Kirby told a briefing on Wednesday, noting that any arms deal would violate sanctions.

Kirby said Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu had recently travelled to North Korea to try to convince Pyongyang to sell artillery ammunition to Russia.

The U.S. and South Korean militaries want to more closely integrate their systems for tracking North Korean missile launches, an effort that may soon include more cooperation with Japan as well, U.S. Space Force officials said on Wednesday.

U.S. President Joe Biden agreed with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida at an Aug. 18 summit that by the end of this year the three countries would share North Korea missile warning data in real time.

(Reporting by Chang-Ran Kim in Tokyo and Josh Smith in Seoul; Editing by Alison Williams, Alex Richardson and Josie Kao)