North Korea launched two surface-to-air missiles into the Yellow Sea on April 7, just before Defense Secretary Ash Carter arrived in Japan for consultations, South Korean military officials confirmed Thursday, reported Reuters. “It’s just a reminder of how tense things are on the Korean Peninsula,” Carter said to reporters as he departed Japan on April 9. “If it was a welcoming message to me, I’m flattered.” The launches, Carter added, reinforce the importance of missile defense preparations and consultations the US has had with the South Koreans, to include the potential deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense system (THAAD) to the Peninsula. The North has vociferously opposed the potential THAAD deployment via its propaganda apparatus recently. The SAM launches are the second reported missile launch in a week, with the North test firing four “short-range” missiles into the Yellow Sea on April 3, according to the South Korean Joint Staff. South Korean officials are also concerned the North could test launch a ballistic missile soon, as Pyongyang has reportedly designated a no-fly zone off its east coast and mobile ballistic missile launchers on North Korea’s east coast have been reported by South Korean media services. The North last test fired short-range ballistic missiles on March 2, in protest of the annual Key Resolve-Foal Eagle exercises.
Top lawmakers on Capitol Hill announced Dec. 2 that they have reached a deal to extend the continuing resolution funding the government into February. Now, the House and Senate will have to scramble to pass the legislation by 11:59 p.m. Dec. 3 to avoid a temporary shutdown.