In reaction to North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile over Japan, the South Korean and US forces launched a barrage of missiles into the sea, Seoul said Wednesday. North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan on Tuesday for the first time in five years, forcing Tokyo to issue evacuation orders for certain people.
In response, South Korea and the United States conducted their drill, launching ground-to-ground missiles into the East Sea, commonly known as the Sea of Japan, according to Seoul’s military. According to the Joint Chiefs of Staff, both militaries launched two ATACMS short-range ballistic missiles into the water “to precisely kill a virtual target.”
According to a statement, the drills “demonstrated the ability and preparedness to neutralize the source of the provocation while maintaining a persistent monitoring posture.” The military also stated that a South Korean missile failed shortly after launch and crashed, with no casualties. South Korean and US fighter planes conducted a bombing practice over the Yellow Sea on Tuesday.
The drills are intended to “ensure that we have the military assets at the ready to respond to provocations by the North if that becomes necessary,” according to US National Security Council spokesperson John Kirby. “That should not have happened. We’ve made it clear to Kim Jong Un that we’re willing to sit down with no strings attached. We want to see the Korean peninsula de-nuclearized “He stated.
“He hasn’t demonstrated any desire to move in that way – and, very simply, he’s heading in the opposite direction by continuing to conduct these missile launches, which are in violation of Security Council resolutions.” Pyongyang’s latest launch is part of a historic year for the reclusive dictatorship, which recently amended its laws to declare itself an “irreversible” nuclear state.
US Vice President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida both condemned North Korea’s latest launch “strongly.” President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea branded the launch a “provocation” and promised a “severe retaliation.” Pyongyang conducted its fifth missile test in ten days on Tuesday.
North Korea’s weapons tests
North Korea’s weapons tests are rarely discussed in state media. The barrage of launches comes as Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington step up coordinated military exercises to address Pyongyang’s mounting threats, including the first trilateral anti-submarine maneuvers in five years on Friday.
This came just days after large-scale exercises between the US and South Korean fleets. North Korea is enraged by such drills, which it perceives as practice for an invasion. Last week, US Vice President Kamala Harris visited Seoul and saw the heavily guarded Demilitarized Zone that separates the Korean peninsula, as part of a trip to emphasize her country’s commitment to South Korea’s defense.
There are around 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea to assist safeguard it from the North. South Korean and US authorities have been warning for months that Kim is planning another nuclear test, with South Korean officials indicating last week that it might happen soon after Pyongyang’s important ally China holds its Communist Party conference on October 16. Pyongyang has conducted six nuclear tests since 2006, the most recent in 2017.
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