North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles toward its eastern waters in its latest weapons display on Saturday, a day after rival South Korea fired rockets related to its push to create space-based surveillance to better monitor the North. launched.
Tensions between the rival Koreas escalated this week after South Korea accused North Korea of flying five drones across the tense border for the first time in five years and responded by sending its own to the North.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that it detected three launches on Saturday morning from an inland area south of the North’s capital, Pyongyang. It said the three missiles travelled a distance of about 350 kilometres (220 miles) before landing in the waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan. The estimated range shows that the missiles tested could hit targets in South Korea.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff called the launch a “grave provocation” that undermines international peace. It said South Korea maintains “extreme readiness” to prevent any provocation by North Korea.
The US Indo-Pacific Command said the launches highlight the “destabilizing effect” of North Korea’s illegal weapons programs and that the US commitment to the defence of South Korea and Japan is “iron-clad.” Earlier on Saturday, Japan’s Defense Ministry had also informed about suspected ballistic missile firing by North Korea.
South Korea’s military scrambled warplanes and helicopters on Monday but failed to shoot down any North Korean drones before they flew back home or disappeared from South Korean radar. One of the North Korean drones travelled as far north as Seoul, causing security panic among many in the South.
South Korea still flew three of its surveillance drones across the border on Monday in an unusual tit-for-tat. South Korea held a large-scale military exercise on Thursday to simulate shooting down a drone.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol has called for boosting his country’s air defence network and vowed to deal firmly with North Korea’s provocations.
Since taking office in May, Yoon’s government has expanded regular military drills with the US in response to North Korea’s growing nuclear threats. North Korea has called such drills an invasion rehearsal and argued that the recent missile test was a response. But some experts say North Korea is more likely than the South Korea-U.S. Training as an excuse to modernize its arsenal and leverage it in future dealings with the US
Prior to Saturday’s launch, North Korea had tested more than 70 missiles this year. Many of them were nuclear-capable weapons designed to strike the US mainland and its allies South Korea and Japan.
Later on Saturday, senior diplomats from South Korea, Japan and the United States jointly condemned the North’s launches following a phone call. According to the South Korean and Japanese foreign ministries, they agreed to strengthen their resistance against North Korea and work together to achieve the North’s denuclearization.
On Friday, South Korea tested a solid-fuel rocket, a type of space launch vehicle, that it plans to use to put into orbit its first spy satellite in the coming years.
Defense officials said it was a follow-up test to the country’s first successful launch of a solid-fuel rocket in March. The unannounced launch sparked a brief public scare of a UFO appearance or a North Korean missile.
North Korea is also pushing to acquire its first military surveillance satellite. Earlier this month, it said it used two old missiles as space launch vehicles to test a camera and other systems needed for the spy satellite and later produced low-resolution images showing South Korean cities. Satellite images released.
Some South Korean experts said that North Korean satellite imagery was too crude for military reconnaissance purposes and that the North Korean rocket launch was probably a disguised test of missile technology. Infuriated by one such assessment, Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, issued crude insults against unnamed South Korean experts. It also cast doubt on North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile technology and threatened to conduct a full-range ICBM test.
This week, North Korea is under way in Pyongyang for a major ruling party meeting to review past policies and policy goals for 2023. It is highly unusual for North Korea to test-launch a missile when it holds an important meeting.
In a sign that the Workers’ Party plenary was coming to an end, the north’s state media reported on Saturday that its powerful Politburo decided to carry out the plenum’s draft resolution.
some Observers said North Korea would publish details of the meeting on Sunday, including Kim Jong Un’s pledge to expand its nuclear arsenal and introduce sophisticated weapons in the name of countering US hostility.