North Korea launches short-range ballistic missiles
North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile on Sunday, the fourth show of force in a week that South Korea and the United States are holding major military exercises, the Seoul military said.
Seoul and Washington have stepped up defense cooperation in the face of growing military and nuclear threats from the North, which has conducted a series of increasingly provocative tests of banned weapons in recent months.
South Korea and the United States are holding an 11-day joint exercise known as the Freedom Shield, the largest in five years.
North Korea regards all such exercises as a rehearsal for an invasion and has repeatedly warned that it will take “overwhelming” actions in response.
“Our military detected one short-range ballistic missile fired from the Dongchang-ri area in North Pyongan province at 11:05 (02:05 GMT) towards the East Sea,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea said. body of water, also known as the Sea of Japan.
The missile flew 800 kilometers (500 miles) and was under analysis by US and South Korean intelligence, JCS said in a statement, calling the launch a “serious provocation” that violated UN sanctions.
“Our armed forces will maintain firm readiness based on their ability to overwhelmingly respond to any provocation from North Korea while conducting intensive and thorough joint drills and exercises,” the statement said.
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Tokyo also confirmed the launch, with Deputy Defense Minister Toshiro Ino telling reporters that Japan “strongly protested and strongly condemned (North Korea) through our embassy in Beijing.”
The US Indo-Pacific Command condemned the launch, saying it highlighted the “destabilizing impact” of North Korea’s banned weapons programs.
South The Korean Defense Ministry said hours after the launch that it had conducted a joint exercise with the United States involving at least one U.S. B-1B long-range bomber.
The exercise also involved South Korean F-35A stealth fighters and US F-16 fighters and was part of the Freedom Shield exercise. The exercise “significantly increased Allied interoperability … and wartime capabilities,” the ministry said in a statement.
The latest launch came a day after North Korean state media reported that more than 800,000 young North Koreans had volunteered to fight “US imperialists.”
The young volunteers were determined to “ruthlessly destroy war maniacs” and joined the army to “defend the country,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
On Thursday, Pyongyang test-fired its largest and most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile. rocket, Hwasong-17, its second ICBM test this year. He described the launch as a response to “frantic” US and South Korean exercises.
United Nations Security Council An emergency meeting is expected to be held on Monday to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile at the request of the United States and Japan, the Yonhap news agency reported.
In a statement released by the KCNA on Sunday, the DPRK Foreign Ministry “strongly” warned the US and other countries to include “North Korea’s legitimate self-defense countermeasures in UNSC discussions.” North Korea is the abbreviation for the official name of North Korea.
Analysts have said in the past that North Korea is likely to use the exercise as a pretext for more missile launches and possibly even nuclear testing.
The ICBM launch follows two short-range ballistic missiles on Tuesday and two strategic cruise missiles fired from a submarine last Sunday.
The recent surge of aggression from Pyongyang has pushed Seoul and Tokyo to mend relations over historical disputes and try to strengthen security cooperation.
Just hours after an intercontinental ballistic missile was launched on Thursday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol arrived in Japan for the first full-scale leaders’ summit between the countries in 12 years.
Yang Mu-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said the recent missile launches served several purposes, including protesting the joint exercise and testing trilateral responses from South Korea, the US and Japan.
Last year, North Korea declared itself an “irreversible” nuclear power, and leader Kim Jong-un recently called for an “exponential” increase in weapons production, including tactical nuclear weapons.
This month, Kim also ordered the North Korean military to step up exercises to prepare for “real war.”
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