South Korea and the United States on Wednesday fired four surface-to-surface missiles at sea targets, a day after Pyongyang fired a passing ballistic missile over Japan.
A North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) flew over Japan on Tuesday, for the first time in five years, prompting Tokyo to activate its warning system and ask residents of some areas to seek refuge.
South Korean and US forces fired two missiles each in the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, according to the South Korean General Staff.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the two armies fired two ATACMS short-range ballistic missiles “to accurately hit a virtual target”.
“These exercises have shown that we are capable and prepared to neutralize the origin of provocations by maintaining a state of constant surveillance,” he said in a press release.
The military also confirmed that the South Korean missile failed shortly after launch, crashing without any casualties.
According to Seoul, on Tuesday, South Korean and US fighter jets had already conducted precision strike exercises, in which bombs were dropped on a virtual target in the Yellow Sea by two South Korean F-15K fighter jets.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said in an interview with CNN that it was “responding to provocations from the North, to ensure that we can demonstrate our capabilities” and “to ensure that we have Military capabilities are ready”.
“It shouldn’t come to this. We have made it clear to Kim Jong Un that we are ready to sit at the table unconditionally,” he said.
North Korea, which has adopted a new doctrine to position its nuclear power as “irreversible”, stepped up its fire this year and launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time since 2017.
Tuesday’s shooting was the fifth in ten days.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned the “escalation” and called on Pyongyang to “resuming dialogue” to achieve “complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”.
US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday condemned “in the strongest possible terms” North Korea’s latest firing.
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yol, for his part, denounced an “instigator” that “blatantly violates universal principles and UN standards”, and ordered “a resolute response”.
Seoul, Tokyo and Washington recently increased joint military maneuvers, holding the first trilateral anti-submarine exercise in five years on September 30, days after massive maneuvers by US and South Korean naval forces off the peninsula. ,
About 28,500 US troops are deployed to help protect South Korea from its neighbour.
South Korean and US officials have been warning for months that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is preparing to conduct another nuclear test.
It could be held after the next Congress of the Communist Party of China starting on October 16, several senior officials of the US command for Asia-Pacific indicated later this week.
Unlike other nuclear powers, North Korea does not see such weapons as a deterrent that should never be used.
Pyongyang has tested nuclear bombs six times since 2006. The latest and most powerful test took place in 2017, with an estimated yield of 250 kilotons.
South Korea: Panic over miss missile launch
A failed ballistic missile launch has triggered panic in the South Korean city after the missile hit the ground and caught fire, officials said on Wednesday. The South Korean military fired a Hyunmu-2 short-range ballistic missile late Tuesday, which malfunctioned and crashed shortly after launch. A South Korean military official told Yonhap news agency that the rocket’s propellant caught fire, but its warhead did not explode.
“Many panicked residents called the town hall,” a Gangneung town hall official told AFP. “At first we didn’t know what was going on because we didn’t get any warnings from the military about this kind of training,” he said on condition of anonymity.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said no casualties were reported and they were investigating the cause of the shooting.
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