North Korea launches at least three ballistic missiles, South Korea says

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(CNN) — North Korea has fired at least three ballistic missile in an easterly direction on Wednesday morning local time, according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff.

The tests come on the heels of US President Joe Biden's first presidential trip to Asia.

Last week, a US official warned that North Korea appeared to be preparing for an intercontinental ballistic missile test during Biden's trip, after satellite imagery revealed activity at a launch site near the capital, Pyongyang.

Biden met with South Korea's new President Yoon Suk Yeol over the weekend, where the two leaders said they would begin exploring an expansion of joint military drills between their countries.

When asked whether he would meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Biden said it would "depend on whether he's sincere and whether he's serious."

To date, Biden's strategy has yet to yield a working meeting with North Korea in the year since the administration completed a review of the US policy toward the hermit kingdom, a senior administration official said, adding that "it has not been for lack of trying."

Meanwhile, Yoon said that South Korea and its allies stand ready for any acts of North Korean provocation.

Last month Kim vowed to "strengthen and develop" its nuclear forces at the "highest possible" speed.

The latest launches mark the 16th time that North Korea has tested its missiles this year, including what the US believes was a failed intercontinental ballistic missile test on May 4 that exploded shortly after launch.

US military and intelligence agencies assess Pyongyang may also be preparing for its first underground nuclear test in nearly five years.

The office of Japan's Prime Minister also announced that a possible ballistic missile had been launched from North Korea on Wednesday, with the Japanese Coast Guard issuing a warning to vessels at 6:03 a.m. local time (5:03 p.m. ET Tuesday.)

"The Ministry of Defense has reported that a possible ballistic missile has been launched from North Korea," it said, adding: "We advise vessels to keep an eye out for further information, and if you see any falling objects, do not approach them and report all relevant information to Japan's Coast Guard."