North Korea fires two more missiles, blaming Seoul and Washington
North Korea launched two new ballistic missiles on Thursday, calling the weapons tests “pure retaliation” against Washington and Seoul and their military exercises in the region.
The fresh firing came as the UN Security Council met in New York to discuss the launch of another North Korean missile that flew over Japan two days earlier.
According to the South Korean army, two short-range missiles were fired from near Pyongyang towards the Sea of Japan on Thursday morning. The Japanese Coast Guard confirmed having detected these projectiles.
The first missile flew 350 kilometers at a maximum altitude of around 80 kilometers, according to the South Korean military’s analysis. The second flew a distance of 800 kilometers at an altitude of 60 kilometers.
This sixth launch in less than two weeks was “absolutely unacceptable,” said Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida immediately.
On Tuesday, a Hwasong-12 missile flew over Japan, traveling about 4,600 km, likely the longest distance Pyongyang has ever traveled in its tests, according to Seoul and Washington.
It was the first time a North Korean projectile had crossed Japanese territory in five years.
North Korea, which in September adopted a new doctrine that made its status as a nuclear power “irreversible,” increased its fire this year, launching an ICBM for the first time since 2017.
The shooting is “the Korean People’s Army’s just retaliation against joint military maneuvers between South Korea and the United States leading to an escalation of military tensions on the Korean peninsula,” the North Korean ministry said in a statement on Thursday.
After Tuesday’s launch, Washington called for an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting. But China, an ally and economic partner of North Korea, also blamed the United States.
– China accuses Washington –
Pyongyang’s missile tests are “closely linked” to US-South Korean military exercises, Chinese deputy ambassador to the United Nations Geng Shuang told the council.
He accused Washington of “poisoning the regional security environment.”
Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have intensified joint military maneuvers in recent weeks, including anti-submarine drills and large-scale naval maneuvers.
South Korea and the US on Wednesday fired five ballistic missiles – one of which crashed after launch – at notional targets in the Sea of Japan. And the day before, the air forces of the two countries had conducted target practice in the Yellow Sea.
Seoul also announced the return to the region of the American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which had been conducting drills with the South Korean Navy in September.
The Security Council meeting was supported by France, the United Kingdom, Albania, Norway and Ireland.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield condemned “a clear attempt by China and Russia to reward (North Korea) for its bad deeds” and called for tougher sanctions on Pyongyang.
In May, Beijing and Moscow vetoed a Security Council resolution imposing new sanctions on North Korea after the body unanimously passed severe sanctions in 2017.
According to analysts, the regime of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un is using the UN blockade to push ahead with its weapons tests.
Seoul and Washington expect North Korea to resume its nuclear tests, which it has suspended since 2017, likely after the Chinese Communist Party Congress, which begins Oct. 16.
“At this point, it would seem counterproductive for Kim to step back and stop the provocations. Not to mention the amount of resources wasted conducting these weapons tests,” RAND Corporation analyst Soo Kim told AFP.
“We are definitely in a cycle of armed provocation,” she said.
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