Seoul says North Korea fired two ballistic missiles

Seoul said North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles on Tuesday, a day after the start of its biggest joint drills with the United States in five years.

“Our military detected two short-range ballistic missiles fired from the Jangyeon area in South Hwanghae province toward the East Sea between 7:41 a.m. (2241 GMT) and 7:51 a.m.,” the staff said in a statement. ” The expanse is also known as the Sea of ​​Japan.

“Our armed forces have increased their surveillance and vigilance in anticipation of further launches, while standing ready to intervene within the framework of close cooperation between South Korea and the United States,” he added.

Pyongyang launched two cruise missiles from a submarine on Sunday, on the eve of joint “Freedom Shield” drills.

North Korea said the launch was aimed at testing “its nuclear deterrents in various locations”, while criticizing exercises called “Freedom Shield” that began on Monday for at least ten days.

To fight back against growing threats from Pyongyang, such maneuvers inflame North Korea, according to two aides. She views them as a dress rehearsal for an invasion of her territory and regularly warns against “coercive” action in response to them.

US and South Korean vehicles at a military training ground in Yeoncheon, South Korea, March 13, 2023 (AFP – Jung Yeon-jae)

The South Korean military said the drills would include “wartime procedures to repel possible North Korean attacks and conduct stabilization operations in the North.”

Last week, Washington and Seoul held joint aerial exercises involving nuclear-capable US B-52 heavy bombers.

– “The new show of force” –

In 2022, the North called its status as a nuclear power “irreversible” and conducted a record number of ballistic tests in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

Last week, leader Kim Jong Un ordered his military to hold military maneuvers for a “real war”.

Leif-Erik Easley, a professor at Iwha University in Seoul, said that while Pyongyang regularly justifies its missile tests by pointing fingers at military exercises in the south, they also serve a national purpose.

A US soldier walks past a military training ground in the city of Paju, South Korea, March 13, 2023 (AFP - Jung Yeon-jae)
A US soldier walks past a military training ground in the city of Paju, South Korea, March 13, 2023 (AFP – Jung Yeon-jae)

“A lot of it is about the Kim regime not appearing vulnerable as it struggles economically at home and South Korea manages to partner in its conventional firepower and security,” he told AFP.

As a result, we can expect further shows of force from Pyongyang.”

Washington has repeatedly reaffirmed its “unwavering” commitment to defending South Korea using “the full range of its military capabilities, including nuclear”.

North Korea (AFP-).
North Korea (AFP-).

For its part, South Korea wants to appease a public that is concerned about the United States’ commitment to so-called extended deterrence, which seeks to use Washington’s military means, including nuclear weapons, to deter attacks against its allies. wants to use.

Analysts previously said North Korea would use the maneuvers as a pretext to launch more missiles or even nuclear tests.

“Further missile launches, varying in style and range, and even a nuclear test should be expected. Further acts of intimidation by North Korea should come as no surprise.” , said Chun In-bum, a retired general in the South Korean army.

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