North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile toward the sea on Sunday, its neighbors said, ramping up testing activities in response to ongoing U.S.-South Korean military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal.
The North’s continuation of missile tests showed its determination not to back down, despite the U.S.-South Korea exercises, which are the biggest of their kind in years. But many experts say the tests are also part of North Korea's bigger objective to expand its weapons arsenal, win international recognition as a nuclear state and get international sanctions lifted.
The missile launched from the North’s northwestern Tongchangri area flew across the country before it landed in the waters off its east coast, according to South Korean and Japanese assessments. They said the missile traveled a distance of about 800 kilometers (500 miles), a range that suggests the weapon could target South Korea.
The chief nuclear envoys from South Korea, Japan and the U.S. discussed the launch on the phone and strongly condemned it as a provocation that threatens peace on the Korean Peninsula and in the region. They agreed to strengthen their coordination to issue a firm international response to the North's action, according to Seoul's Foreign Ministry.
South Korea's military said it will proceed with the rest of the joint drills with the U.S. and maintain a readiness to “overwhelmingly” respond to any provocation by North Korea. As part of the drills, the U.S. on Sunday flew at least one long-range B-1B bomber for joint aerial training with South Korean warplanes, according to South Korea's Defense Ministry.
North Korea is highly sensitive to the deployment of B-1Bs, which are capable of carrying a huge conventional weapons payload. It responded to the February flights of B-1Bs by test-launching missiles, whose ranges showed they can reach some military airbases in South Korea.
Japanese Vice Defense Minister Toshiro Ino said the missile landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone and that there were no reports of damage to vessels or aircraft in the area. He said the missile likely showed an irregular trajectory, a possible reference to North Korea’s highly maneuverable, nuclear-capable KN-23 missile that was modeled on Russia’s Iskander missile.
The U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said the latest launch doesn’t pose an immediate threat to the U.S. territory or its allies. But it said the North’s recent launches highlight “the destabilizing impact of its unlawful” weapons programs and that the U.S. security commitment to South Korea and Japan remains “ironclad.”
The launch was the North’s third round of weapons tests since the U.S. and South Korean militaries began their joint military drills last Monday. The drills, which include computer simulations and field exercises, are to continue until Thursday. The field exercises are the biggest of their kind since 2018.
The weapons North Korea recently tested include its longest-range Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile designed to strike the U.S. mainland. The North’s state media quoted leader Kim Jong Un as saying the ICBM launch was meant to “strike fear into the enemies.”
Thursday’s launch, the North’s first ICBM firing in a month, drew strong protests from Seoul, Tokyo and Washington as it was carried out just hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol flew to Tokyo for a closely watched summit with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.
During the summit, Yoon and Kishida agreed to resume their defense dialogue and further strengthen security cooperation with the United States to counter North Korea and address other challenges.
Ties between Seoul and Tokyo suffered a major setback in recent years due to issues stemming from Japan’s 1910-45 colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula.
But North Korea’s record run of missile tests last year — it launched more than 70 missiles in 2022 alone — pushed Seoul and Tokyo to seek stronger trilateral security partnerships with Washington, which also wants to reinforce its alliances in Asia to better deal with China’s rise and North Korean nuclear threats.
North Korea has missiles that place Japan within striking distance. Last October, North Korea fired an intermediate-range missile over northern Japan, forcing communities there to issue evacuation alerts and halt trains.
After Sunday’s launch, Kishida ordered a prompt response, including working closely with South Korea and the U.S., according to Ino, the Japanese vice defense minister.
A day before the start of the drills, North Korea also fired cruise missiles from a submarine. The North’s state media said the submarine-launched missile was a demonstration of its resolve to respond with “overwhelming powerful” force to the intensifying military maneuvers by “the U.S. imperialists and the South Korean puppet forces.”
According to South Korean media reports, the U.S. and South Korea plan more training involving a U.S. aircraft carrier later this month after their current exercises end. This suggests animosities on the Korean Peninsula could last a few more weeks as North Korea would also likely respond to those drills with weapons tests.
Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama in Tokyo contributed to this report.© Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed without permission.
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I think he is starting to look more and more like a Jack O' lantern at an alarming rate.
Another day, another North Korean missile launched into the sea. How long before he runs out?
That side shave is actually the latest Hollywood fashion, as seen in the Fury movie.
Guess it was time for some Wake up / Morning Fireworks.
Red alert Rocket boy is making mad progress and teaming up with Russian.
Keeping them in the corner will only end badly for everyone. Time to assume the senior role and set a diplomatic example. They are reacting most naturally for their position, which is an extremely disadvantageous one. That's what the nukes are for, and I wouldn't waste any more time trying to force them to give them up.
Hey piggy let those fish alone all in all ur just another pig in NK all your subjects are nearer to hungry ghosts so use the money to feed your people not spend on blowing blank weapons which is poisonous to aquatic life
I wonder if he was personally "taken out" if all the NK people who are forced to clap hands and cry for him would actually really cry. I think they would be clapping hands in joy myself
How about a moratorium on joint exercises for a year?
See how NK responds?
Will the appropriate authorities please, not only, listen, but put my suggestion into action? At once? And every time? North Korea's fat boy with three chins fires missiles regularly over the sea besides Japan and, across the Pacific towards the U.S.A. because, he is chronically affected by ravenous hunger for the world's attention. Please ignore North Korea's fat boy with three chins. Mention his missiles if necessary. But, in the back pages. And, in small print.
Get a life. Yaaaaawn.
What does that even mean? Wont back down in the face of defensive US and South Korean military drills? I guess it means they will continue to provoke their neighbor and conduct more belligerent actions.
Indeed it is part of NK excuses used to expand its missile capabilities. It is already recognized as having nuclear weapons, but the continued hostile actions will only make sanctions worse, they will never get them reduced or removed by showing their hostile intent on a regular basis.
20 years ago Bush went to war with Iraq destroyed the nation and hanged it leader Saddam over a LIE about the existence of WMD, here we have a nation and it's leader with OPEN hostility towards the U.S and it's allies who has WMD and relentlessly keeps on firing missiles across the water and NOTHING is being done so far.
Did great damage to Iraq.
Saddam was tried, convicted and hanged by the Iraqi people, nobody else was responsible for that.
Saddam was accused of having chemical and biological weapons as he had a documented history of using them against his own people, (for which he has later convicted and hanged).
NK has a number of nuclear weapons and a very advanced ballistic missile program and stockpile. The danger of attacking him is much greater to the region and beyond, unlike Iraq at the time it was wrongly invaded over WMD that had already been disposed of by Saddam. What action would you suggest the world take against NK to resolve this situation?
Awa no Gaijin
If he likes drills so much perhaps he should use one to fix his loose screw and a few more marbles too !
North Korea responding to provocation from the US and it's vassals.
At this point, after establishing that he has nuclear weapons and delivery systems. wouldn't it be wiser to start improving the living conditions of the people of NK, rather than prove once again that he is able to launch a missile? He is wasting resources that the people need. He is a foolish, egomaniacal dictator.
Why does North Korea seek nuclear weapons?
Could it be due to the war mongering US of A and its past actions?
Pyongyang was razed to the ground by US bombs-a fact that most posters here are ignorant of.
The North Koreans are reminded of the extreme violence that was rained down on them almost everyday.
Kim knows that nuclear powers do not get attacked.
ramping up testing activities in response to ongoing U.S.-South Korean military drills that it views as an invasion rehearsal.
I see your confusion. When North Korea invaded South Korea, they used "military exercises" as the cover for their massed invasion force. North Korea assumes the same will be done to them, but in reality knows it wont be. NK knows the US likes to bomb for weeks to soften up the enemy before moving troops in.
South Korea military drills with the US are on how to defeat another NK invasion. Everybody knows it including China and Russia. Nobody wants the financial burden of millions of starving North Koreans to feed. NK has no jewels or products or industries worth invading for. NK is nobodies idea of a prize worth sacrificing the lives of your soldiers for period.
Defensive drills are no provocation. Launching missiles over other nations is provocation. How could anyone miss that? Amazing.
News media report there are two reasons as to why North Korea keeps test-firing missiles with a possibility of nuclearizing them somehow. One of the reasons, they say, is that North Korea wants to be recognized as a nuclear nation; and the second reason is that they want sanctions imposed on them by the international community spearheaded by the U.S. to be removed immediately.
But I have some doubt about such an assessment, especially the first reason.
Aren't the test-firings of missiles so often money-consuming and effecting Pyongyang's national coffers a great deal?
Clearly that delusional view is not the reason as the US is not warmongering. Past actions? seriously you want to base it on things done by other leaders in different centuries? Time to move on sport.
Was that before or AFTER North Korea invaded South Korea?
So they are reminded that they violently invaded the peaceful South, got severely damaged because of their hostile actions, and direct it outwards to the "hated US and its allies".
Well India has been attacked by China, Pakistan and India have had minor wars and both are armed with nuclear weapons. China and USSR had armed confrontations and they both had nukes.
North Korea's best safety is through its utter destitution and starving population, and having nothing worth a fight. Having some nukes is worrying but hardly makes Kim safe. Nuclear nations have had leaders assassinated before.
Peter14, American do not care about defending foreigner, American do not care about defending their own citizen,why do you renounce your Australia citizenship and become an American,instead of a wannabe,an American renounced his citizenship and became an Australian and end up in jail Google American Australia Pilot