North Korea fires ballistic missile into Sea of ​​Japan

North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile on Sunday, its fourth show of force in a week as Seoul and Washington held their biggest joint military exercises in five years, according to the South Korean military.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, “Our military fired a short-range ballistic missile at 11:05 am (0205 GMT) from the area around Tongchang-ri area in North Pyongan province (northwest) towards the East Sea.” Missile detected.” , referring to the Korean name for the Sea of ​​Japan.

US and South Korean intelligence is analyzing the projectile, which traveled 800 kilometers, the JCS said in a statement, calling the launch a “serious provocation” in violation of UN sanctions.

The JCS said the army is prepared to respond “overwhelmingly” by continuing “intense and intense military maneuvers and exercises”.

Seoul and Washington are holding their biggest military maneuvers in five years since Monday, in a move believed to bolster their cooperation in the face of a growing threat from the North. Called the “Freedom Shield,” they should last until March 23.

The US military’s Indo-Pacific Command also condemned the shooting, underscoring the “destabilizing effect” of North Korean weapons programs, although prohibited.

Vice Defense Minister Toshiro Ino told reporters that Tokyo also confirmed the shootings and “strongly” condemned it through its embassy in Beijing.

– “Red line” –

Joint military exercises between the United States and South Korea, March 19, 2023 (South Korean Defense Ministry/AFP – Handout)

The drills in Seoul and Washington enrage Pyongyang, which sees them as rehearsals for an invasion of its territory and regularly promises a “forceful” response.

North Korea’s official KCNA news agency said of them on Saturday, they are “moving towards an unforgivable red line”.

Hours after this latest launch, the Defense Ministry in Seoul announced an airstrike involving at least one B-1B long-range bomber and F-16 aircraft on the US side, as well as F-35A stealth fighters on the south side. Reported maneuvers. Korean.

Sunday’s shooting comes a day after KCNA announced that “more than 800,000” youth volunteers have joined the army to fight “US imperialists”.

On Thursday, Pyongyang fired its Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the most powerful in its arsenal, in the presence of leader Kim Jong Un and his daughter, and just ahead of a visit by the Southeastern President to Japan. Yoon Suk Yeol.

Years after a historic dispute left cold, the two neighbors resumed language at the highest level and decided to present a united front against North Korea.

Mr. Yoon also announced the reactivation of the General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA). The agreement, signed in 2016 but challenged by Seoul in 2019 due to diplomatic tensions, allows for the exchange of military intelligence.

Thursday was Pyongyang’s second ICBM test this year, which KCNA said was a response to “frenzy” military drills by South Korea and the United States at the time.

The firing followed the launch of two short-range ballistic missiles on Tuesday and two strategic cruise missiles from a submarine on March 12.

– “lawful self-defense” –

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (right) attends the launch of an intercontinental missile on March 16, 2023 (KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Archives - STR)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (right) attends the launch of an intercontinental missile on March 16, 2023 (KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/Archives – STR)

On Sunday, G7 foreign ministers condemned the latest ICBM launch, saying “North Korea’s dangerous behavior requires a swift and united response from the international community, including significant new steps by the Security Council to the United Nations “.

The latter is due to hold an emergency meeting on Monday about the same test at the request of Washington and Tokyo, according to Yonhap news agency.

In a statement published by KCNA, the North Korean foreign ministry spoke of “legitimate self-defense countermeasures” and “firmly” warned the United States and other countries that they would be subject to board review.

In a separate statement, the ministry condemned the United States and its ambassador to the United Nations, whom it considers “obsessed with implementing unethical sanctions” against North Korea.

Experts have warned that Pyongyang is likely to use the drills as a pretext for more missile launches and possibly a nuclear test, the seventh in its history and the first since 2017.

Last year, North Korea declared its status as a nuclear power “irrevocable” and Kim Jong Un called for an “exponential” increase in the country’s military arsenal, including tactical nuclear weapons.

Earlier this month, the leader ordered the army to conduct its own maneuvers for a “real war”.

Add a Comment