North Korea fired a missile into the sea amid US-South Korea military exercises


North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile on Sunday, Seoul’s military said, the fourth show of force in a week as South Korea and the United States hold major military exercises.

Seoul and Washington have stepped up defense cooperation amid growing military and nuclear threats from the North, which has conducted a series of more provocative banned weapons tests in recent months.

South Korea and the United States are currently engaged in an 11-day joint exercise known as Freedom Shield, their largest in five years.

North Korea views all such drills as attempted invasions and has repeatedly warned it will take “repressive” steps in response.

“Our military detected one short-range ballistic missile fired from the Dongchang-ri area of ​​North Pyongan Province at 11:05 a.m. (0205 GMT) toward the East Sea,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. considering. a body of water also known as the Sea of ​​Japan.

The missile flew 800 kilometers (497 miles) and was under analysis by US and South Korean intelligence, the JCS said in a statement, calling the launch a “serious provocation” that violated UN sanctions.

“Our military will maintain a strong posture of readiness based on its ability to overwhelmingly respond to any North Korean provocation while conducting intensive and thorough combined exercises and military exercises,” he added.

The US military’s Indo-Pacific Command also condemned the launch, saying it underscored the “destabilizing effect” of North Korea’s banned weapons programs.

Tokyo confirmed the launch, which Vice Defense Minister Toshiro Ino told reporters it had “strongly protested and strongly condemned (North Korea) through our embassy in Beijing.”

The missile may have flown on an erratic trajectory and apparently fell outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Kyodo News reported, citing unnamed government sources.

“800,000 volunteers”

The latest launch comes a day after North Korean state media reported that more than 800,000 young North Koreans had volunteered to join the army to fight “US imperialists”.

The young volunteers were determined to “mercilessly wipe out war fanatics” and joined the army to “protect the country,” according to a statement by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

On Thursday, Pyongyang test-fired its largest and most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-17, its second ICBM test this year.

State media described the ICBM launch as a response to ongoing, “fierce” US-South Korea military exercises.

Analysts have previously said North Korea is likely to use the drills as a pretext for more missile launches and possibly even a nuclear test.

On Saturday, KCNA said the allies’ joint military exercises were “close to an unforgivable red line”.

The ICBM launch followed two short-range ballistic missiles on Tuesday and two strategic cruise missiles launched from a submarine last Sunday.

The latest spate of aggression by Pyongyang has prompted Seoul and Tokyo to mend historic disputes and try to boost security cooperation.

Just hours after Thursday’s ICBM launch, South Korean President Yun Suk-yeol arrived in Japan for the first large-scale leaders’ summit between the countries in 12 years.

After their summit, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said both countries wanted stronger deterrence capabilities and that stalled security and ministerial talks would now resume. Yun said the countries would also revive a military intelligence agreement that Seoul suspended when relations broke down.

Last year, North Korea declared itself an “irreversible” nuclear power, and leader Kim Jong Un recently called for an “exponential” increase in weapons production, including tactical nuclear weapons.

Earlier this month, Kim also ordered the North Korean military to intensify military exercises in preparation for “real war.”


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