The Yonhap news agency claimed that South Korea scrambled airplanes on Thursday after sighting at least 12 North Korean warplanes flying in formation during an alleged bombing exercise.
Earlier Thursday, while a US aircraft carrier and allies practiced shooting down a North Korean missile, the country launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea, aimed at Japan.
According to Seoul and Washington authorities, North Korea seems prepared to conduct its first nuclear test since 2017. North Korea has fired over 40 missiles this year, including some of its heaviest intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs).
Following the USS Ronald Reagan carrier’s return to the seas near the Korean Peninsula and a UN Security Council meeting called in reaction to the North’s previous tests, Thursday’s launches took place.
The missile launch was the first since North Korea launched an IRBM over Japan on Tuesday, which sparked joint US and South Korean missile exercises in which one weapon went off-course. It was the sixth missile launch in the previous 12 days.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea and the Japanese government reported the launch.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters, “Just counting the ones from the end of September, this is the sixth time in the short period.” “This can in no way be permitted.”
The launch took place around an hour after Pyongyang, implying that the missile tests were a response to the alliance’s military actions, denounced the US for speaking to the UN Security Council against Pyongyang’s “legitimate counteraction measures of the Korean People’s Army on south Korea-US joint exercises.”
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North Korea also criticized Washington for relocating a US aircraft carrier in the seas off the Korean peninsula, claiming that it constituted a significant danger to the situation’s stability in a statement issued by the secretive country’s foreign ministry.
In reaction to North Korea’s IRBM launch over Japan, the USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group of supporting vessels were quickly redeployed.
The carrier strike group participated in a maritime missile defense training exercise with destroyers from South Korea and Japan, the South Korean military said on Thursday.
According to a State Department official, the United States strongly denounced Thursday’s launch, describing it as a breach of UN Security Council resolutions and a danger to the international community and the region’s neighbors.
However, the official stressed that Washington is dedicated to using a diplomatic strategy and urged the North to start a discussion.
On Wednesday, the United States charged China and Russia with supporting North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by thwarting efforts to tighten sanctions on Pyongyang over its development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.
In a phone conversation on Thursday, Japanese Prime Minister Kishida and South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol agreed that North Korea should get a clear word that any provocations would have repercussions.
The leaders demanded an end to such careless provocation and denounced the North’s most recent missile launches as grave provocations.
According to Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada, Tokyo spoke with North Korea via delegations in Beijing in “vehement protest.”
According to him, the first missile on Thursday went to an altitude of about 100 km and had a range of 350 km, while the second missile, which flew to an estimated height of 50 km and had a range of 800 km, most likely flew on an erratic trajectory.
Recent short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) from North Korea are often build with a lower, depress trajectory and maneuverability, making it more difficult to track and intercept them.
According to Mr. Hamada, “North Korea has continuously and unilaterally upped its provocation, particularly since the beginning of this year.”
According to the JCS of South Korea, the missiles fire from a location close to Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea.
This year, North Korea has fired around 40 missiles. Its record-breaking program started in January with the launch of a brand-new “hypersonic missile,” and later included the firing of long-range cruise missiles, SRBMs from airports, train carriages, and submarines, its first ICBM launches since 2017, and the IRBM blasted over Japan.
Officials in Seoul and Washington also claim it seems prepared to carry out a nuclear test for the first time since 2017.
Although the United States and its allies have increased their military presence in the area, the UN Security Council, which has previously approved resolutions prohibiting the North’s missile and nuclear programs, seems unlikely to impose more international sanctions.
The Security Council must act constructively “instead of relying exclusively on harsh language or pressure,” according to Geng Shuang, China’s deputy UN ambassador.
China and Russia officially separated the Security Council for the first time since it began punishing Pyongyang with sanctions in 2006 when they blocked a US-led attempt to impose more UN penalties on North Korea over its resumed ballistic missile tests in May.