Tuesday, March 21, 2023
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North Korea Fires Ballistic Missiles For 4th Time In 1 Week


North Korea launched two ballistic missiles early Saturday, the South Korean military said, marking the nuclear-armed country’s fourth launch this week as Seoul, Tokyo, and Washington step up joint military exercises to challenge Pyongyang.

Just days after Washington and Seoul’s navy conducted sizable exercises in the seas off the peninsula, South Korea, Japan, and the US conducted anti-submarine drills on Friday, the first in five years.

On a visit to Seoul on Thursday, US Vice President Kamala Harris visited the highly guarded Demilitarized Zone that separates the peninsula to emphasize her nation’s “ironclad” commitment to South Korea’s defense against the North.

Since negotiations have broken down, Pyongyang has intensified its efforts to develop forbidden weapons, executing a record-breaking flurry of tests this year and amending its laws to designate itself as an “irreversible” nuclear state.

The East Sea, often known as the Sea of Japan, is a body of water. According to South Korea’s military, “two short-range missiles were detected between 0645 and 0703 launched from the Sunan area in Pyongyang into the East Sea.”

The Joint Chiefs of Staff of Seoul claimed that the missiles “flew about 350 km (217 miles) at an altitude of 30 km at a speed of Mach 6.” They called the launches “a major provocation.”

Tokyo stated that the missiles had fallen outside of Japan’s exclusive economic zones, confirming the firing.

The missiles “appear to have flown in unusual trajectories,” according to Toshiro Ino, deputy minister of defense for Japan.

According to experts, the missiles’ erratic trajectories show they may maneuver while in flight, making them more challenging to monitor and intercept.

Using the official acronym for North Korea, the US Indo-Pacific Command said that the most recent launch “highlights the destabilizing consequences of the DPRK’s illicit WMD and ballistic missile programs.”

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Harris Trip

A barrage of missile launches by North Korea on Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday, including a test only hours after the vice president flew out of South Korea, were timed to coincide with Harris’s visit to Seoul.

To assist defend South Korea from the North, Washington maintains 28,500 soldiers there.

President Yoon Suk-yeol of South Korea, who took office in May, has increased joint drills between the two nations, which they stress are only defensive.

Washington deployed the nuclear-powered USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier to South Korea just before Harris landed there to perform a large joint naval drill as a show of force against Pyongyang.

North Korea is enrage by these exercises because it perceives them as invasion drills.

Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, said that North Korea’s short-range missile tests “are less critical than a nuclear test but still violate UN Security Council resolutions,” adding that the timing was “provocative.”

He said North Korea is “quickly updating its weaponry and exploiting a globe split by US-China competition and Russia’s invasion of additional Ukrainian land.”

He said, “Pyongyang’s actions once again demonstrate the necessity for Washington and Seoul to strengthen military deterrence, tighten economic sanctions, and deepen policy cooperation with Tokyo.”

Upcoming Nuclear Test

Since months, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has been the subject of warnings from South Korean and US authorities.

The next nuclear test by North Korea might occur between the forthcoming party conference in China on October 16 and the US midterm elections on November 7, according to the South’s intelligence service on Wednesday.

North Korea, which is subject to several UN sanctions because of its weapons programs, usually carefully plans the timing of its nuclear tests to maximize their geopolitical effect.

Since 2006, the isolated dictatorship has conducted six nuclear weapons tests, the most recent of which was in 2017.

President Yoon issued a grim warning on Saturday if Pyongyang used nuclear weapons on its southern neighbor.

In a speech on Armed Forces Day, he declared, “If North Korea tries to utilize nuclear weapons, it will meet a firm and overwhelming response from our military and Korea-US alliance.”


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