North Korea launches ballistic missiles in response to US military exercises

North Korea has launched two missiles into the waters of its east coast. (Photo: Kim Hong-Ji/Reuters/File)

North Korea test-fired two suspected short-range ballistic missiles, adding to its onslaught in recent weeks in protest of U.S. and South Korean military exercises.

The missiles were launched at approximately 7:47 a.m. local time from the Chunghwa region immediately south of Pyongyang, according to a text message from South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff. The missiles were launched approximately 10 minutes apart, travelled about 350 kilometres (220 miles), and reached an altitude of about 50 kilometres before falling outside Japan's exclusive economic zone, according to the Defense Ministry in Tokyo.

The flight data indicate North Korea launched ballistic missiles with a small range. Kim Jong Un's leadership has not commented on the most recent launch, but its propaganda department has been trumpeting recent tests of new weapons that it claims will "strike fear into the hearts of the enemy."

North Korea has been exploring new nuclear attack methods against the United States and its two most critical allies in Asia, South Korea and Japan. This week, it tested a new underwater drone that it claims can generate a "radioactive tsunami." Pyongyang has also deployed new missiles capable of striking U.S. forces in South Korea and conducted its first test of a fake nuclear warhead attached to a missile capable of striking western Japan this month.

Last week, the United States and South Korea began Ssangyong, their most giant amphibious drill in almost five years. In June, they aim to conduct their largest live-fire drills. The exercises will infuriate Pyongyang, which has already increased its provocations.

On Monday, some South Korean and Japanese military stocks opened higher, including LIG Nex1 Co. and Hanwha Aerospace Co. Shares anticipated to gain from improving inter-Korean relations declined, lagging the broad benchmark.

The North Korean propaganda source Uriminzokkiri stated over the weekend that the joint military exercises were "offensive, not defensive" and that the situation on the peninsula "will become more explosive."

North Korea, which launched 13 ballistic missiles between February 18 and immediately before its most recent launch, has for years viewed joint exercises as a precursor to invasion and nuclear war. In January, the United States and South Korea planned to expand their joint military exercises. North Korea's mortal adversary, Japan, has also participated in several drills in recent months.

Kim Jong Un's dictatorship reportedly launched a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile on March 16, hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol travelled to Japan for a summit to mend ties and strengthen security cooperation with their mutual U.S. partner.

In recent weeks, North Korea has launched two intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of striking the United States and what seemed to be a new short-range ballistic missile aimed at attacking U.S. forces in South Korea. Two cruise missiles were also launched from a submarine, which appeared to be another first.

Kim Yo Jong, the important sister of the North Korean leader, has threatened that Pyongyang will convert the Pacific Ocean into a "firing range" if U.S. military exercises continue. She also alluded to the possibility that the state may begin testing whether its warhead designs can endure the heat of reentry into the atmosphere.

North Korea has proved that its rockets can travel as far as the United States, but it is unclear whether the warheads could reach their objectives undamaged.

At a meeting of their military ministers in late January in Seoul, the U.S. and South Korea, he agreed to intensify joint drills. Former President Donald Trump scaled back or halted the exercises in hopes that it would facilitate his nuclear negotiations with the North Korean leader.

Pyongyang's nuclear program has only expanded due to the ineffectiveness of disarmament discussions, resulting in no tangible moves to end it. In recent months, Japan has participated in joint military exercises with the United States and South Korea, angering Pyongyang, which has responded with displays of force to express its dissatisfaction.

Publish : 2023-03-27 10:00:00

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