Seoul: North Korea fires ballistic missile at sea

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea launched a ballistic missile towards its eastern waters on Thursday, the South Korean military said, hours after the North threatened to launch “more fierce” military responses in the United States, reinforcing its security commitment to its allies South Korea and Japan.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a brief statement that they detected the launch from North Korea, but gave no further details on how far the weapon traveled and the launch. where she landed.

Earlier on Thursday, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hue warned that a recent summit agreement between the United States, South Korea and Japan on the North would make tensions on the Korean peninsula » more unpredictable ».

Choe’s statement was North Korea’s first official response to President Joe Biden’s trilateral summit with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Cambodia on Sunday. In their joint statement, the three leaders strongly condemned North Korea’s recent missile tests and agreed to work together to strengthen deterrence, while Biden reaffirmed US commitment to defending South Korea and Japan. with a full range of capabilities, including its nuclear weapons.

Choe said the U.S.-South Korea-Japan summit would bring the situation on the Korean Peninsula to « a more unpredictable phase. »

“The more the United States is enthusiastic about the “enhanced offer of extended deterrence” to its allies and the more it escalates its provocative and bluffing military activities on the Korean peninsula and in the region, the more the military counteraction (from North Korea) will be fiercer in proportion to that, » Choe said. « It will pose a more serious, realistic, and inevitable threat to the United States and its vassal forces. »

Choe did not say what action North Korea might take, but said « the United States will be well aware that this is a game they will certainly regret. »

North Korea has firmly maintained that its recent weapons testing activities are legitimate military countermeasures to what it calls military exercises between US and South Korean forces, which it considers a practice for launch attacks against the North. Washington and Seoul said their drills were defensive in nature.

In recent months, South Korean and American troops have expanded their regular exercises and resumed trilateral training with Japan in response to North Korea’s efforts to expand its nuclear and missile arsenals. These exercises involved a US aircraft carrier and US B-1B supersonic bombers for the first time since 2017. In recent years, annual military training between Seoul and Washington had been reduced or canceled to support the now dormant diplomacy. with North Korea and guard against the COVID-19 pandemic.

In his statement on Thursday, Choe said « the United States and its supporters have staged one large-scale war drill for aggression after another, but they have failed to contain the counteraction. overwhelming North Korea ».

It was feared that North Korea would conduct its first nuclear test in five years as the next major step in building up its military capability against the United States and its allies.

US and South Korean officials said North Korea had completed preparations for a test nuclear explosion at its remote testing facility in the northeast. Some experts say the test, if carried out, would be for developing nuclear warheads to be placed on short-range missiles capable of hitting key targets in South Korea, such as US military bases. They say North Korea would eventually aim to use its enhanced arsenal as leverage to pressure the United States into making concessions in future negotiations and recognizing it as a nuclear state.

Hyung-jin Kim, Associated Press


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