South Korea and US fire four missiles after North Korea launches
South Korea and the United States fired four surface-to-surface missiles at sea targets on Wednesday, a day after Pyongyang fired a ballistic missile that overflyed Japan.
A North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) flew over Japan on Tuesday, a first in five years, prompting Tokyo to activate its warning system and urge residents of certain regions to seek shelter.
The South Korean and American armies each fired two missiles into the Sea of Japan on Wednesday, according to the South Korean General Staff.
Both armies fired two short-range ATACMS ballistic missiles “to hit a virtual target accurately,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
These exercises “demonstrated our ability and readiness to neutralize the source of the provocation while maintaining a constant surveillance position,” he added in a press release.
The military also confirmed that a South Korean missile failed shortly after launch and crashed with no casualties.
On Tuesday, South Korean and American warplanes had already conducted precision attack exercises, in which two South Korean F-15K fighter jets dropped bombs on a virtual target in the Yellow Sea, Seoul said.
US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, interviewed by CNN, hinted that it was “to respond to provocations from the North, to make sure we can demonstrate our own capabilities” and “to make sure we can have military capabilities ready”.
“It shouldn’t come to that. We made it clear to Kim Jong Un that we are ready to sit down at the table with no preconditions,” he added.
North Korea, which has adopted a new doctrine making its status as a nuclear power “irreversible,” increased its fire this year, launching an ICBM for the first time since 2017.
Tuesday’s shooting was the fifth in ten days.
– “Escalade” –
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres denounced an “escalation” and urged Pyongyang to “resume dialogue” to achieve “full and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”
US President Joe Biden and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on Tuesday condemned the recent North Korean shooting “in the strongest possible terms”.
For his part, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol deplored a “provocation” that “clearly violates universal principles and standards of the United Nations” and ordered “a firm response”.
Seoul, Tokyo and Washington recently stepped up their joint military maneuvers, organizing the first trilateral anti-submarine drills in five years on Sept. 30, days after large-scale maneuvers by US and South Korean naval forces off the peninsula.
About 28,500 American soldiers are stationed in South Korea to protect it from its neighbor.
South Korean and American officials have been warning for months that North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un is preparing for another nuclear test.
This could be done after the next Chinese Communist Party congress, which begins Oct. 16, several senior officials from the US Asia-Pacific Command said this weekend.
Unlike other nuclear powers, North Korea does not consider these types of weapons a deterrent that must never be used.
Pyongyang has tested nuclear bombs six times since 2006. The last and most powerful test came in 2017 with an estimated yield of 250 kilotons.
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