North Korea fires short-range ballistic missile


North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile on Sunday, the Seoul military said, marking the fourth show of force in a week as South Korea and the United States host major military exercises.

Seoul and Washington have stepped up defense cooperation in the face of rising military and nuclear threats from the North, which has conducted a series of increasingly provocative banned weapons tests in recent months.

South Korea and the United States are engaged in 11 days of joint exercises known as Freedom Shield, their largest in five years.

North Korea views all such exercises as rehearsals for an invasion and has repeatedly warned it would take “overwhelming” measures in response.

“At 11:05 am (0205 GMT), our military detected a short-range ballistic missile fired from the Tongchang-ri area of ​​North Pyongan province towards the Baltic Sea,” said the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) of South Korea, referring to the body of water also known as the Sea of ​​Japan.

The missile flew 800 kilometers (500 miles) and was analyzed by US and South Korean intelligence, the JCS said in a statement, calling the launch “a serious provocation” in violation of UN sanctions.

“Our military will maintain a solid readiness posture based on its ability to respond overwhelmingly to any provocation by North Korea while conducting intensive and thorough combined drills and exercises,” it said.

Tokyo also confirmed the launch, with Deputy Defense Minister Toshiro Ino telling reporters that Japan had “protested vehemently to and strongly condemned (North Korea) through our embassy in Beijing.”

The US Army Indo-Pacific Command condemned the launch, saying it highlighted “the destabilizing impact” of North Korea’s banned weapons programs.

The South Korean defense ministry said hours after the launch that it had organized joint air exercises with the United States with at least one US B-1B long-range bomber.

The exercises also involved South Korean F-35A stealth fighter jets and US F-16 fighters and took place as part of the Freedom Shield exercise. The exercise had “greatly improved Allied interoperability … and warfare capabilities,” the ministry said in a statement.

– ‘War Maniacs’ –
The latest launch came a day after North Korean state media reported that more than 800,000 young North Koreans had volunteered to join the military to fight “American imperialists”.

Determined to “mercilessly exterminate the war maniacs,” the young volunteers joined the army to “defend the country,” according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

On Thursday, Pyongyang tested its largest and most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-17, its second ICBM test this year. It described the launch as a response to “frantic” exercises between the US and South Korea.

The UN Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the launch of the ICBM at the request of the United States and Japan, Yonhap news agency reported.

In a KCNA statement on Sunday, the State Department of the North “strongly” warned the US and other countries to “include legitimate DPRK self-defense countermeasures in UN Security Council discussions.” North Korea is the abbreviation of the official name of North Korea.

Analysts previously said North Korea would likely use the exercises as an excuse to conduct more missile launches and perhaps even a nuclear test.

The ICBM launch followed two short-range ballistic missiles on Tuesday and two strategic cruise missiles fired from a submarine last Sunday.

The recent wave of aggression by Pyongyang has prompted Seoul and Tokyo to redress historic differences and strengthen security cooperation.

Just hours after the ICBM was fired on Thursday, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol arrived in Japan for the first full leadership summit between the countries in 12 years.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, said the recent missile launches had several purposes, including protesting the joint exercises and testing trilateral responses from South Korea, the United States and Japan.

North Korea declared itself an “irreversible” nuclear power last year and leader Kim Jong Un recently called for an “exponential” increase in weapons production, including tactical nuclear weapons.

Kim also this month ordered the North Korean military to step up exercises in preparation for a “real war”.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

Source link


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here