Seoul, South Korea –
On Sunday, North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile toward the country’s eastern seaboard, extending a string of provocative weapons tests as a US aircraft carrier visited South Korea for joint drills aimed at countering inter-Korean relations. North Korea’s growing nuclear threat.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the missile launched from the western inland town of Taechon flew 600 kilometers across the country at a maximum altitude of 60 kilometers before landing in waters off North Korea’s east coast. Tien.
South Korea’s military condemned the North’s launch as a “serious provocation”, violating UN Security Council resolutions and “harming peace and safety” of the region. as well as of the international community.
US Indo-Pacific Command said the launch did not pose “an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies”, but nevertheless highlighted destabilizing effects of North Korea’s illicit nuclear weapons and missile programs.
North Korea has accelerated test activities to a record by 2022, testing more than 30 ballistic weapons, including its first intercontinental ballistic missile since 2017, as it continues to open expanding military capabilities amid a prolonged stalemate in nuclear diplomacy.
The launch took place as the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group arrived in South Korea for joint military exercises by the two countries aimed at demonstrating strength against growing threats. of North Korea.
During Sunday’s launch discussion, the Chairman of the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Kim Seung-kyum, and General Paul LaCamera, an American general who is the head of command of the ROK-U.S. combined forces in Seoul, reaffirmed its plan to strengthen allies’ South Korean military said joint defense through training.
In a statement, Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida said Tokyo was “doing its best” to gather information about the North Korean launch and confirm the safety of ships and aircraft, although there have been no reports. immediate damage.
The threat from North Korea is also expected to be a key agenda item when US Vice President Kamala Harris visits South Korea next week after attending a state funeral in Tokyo after the former Japanese prime minister. Shinzo Abe is killed.
North Korea has ramped up its test activities to a record pace by 2022, testing more than 30 ballistic weapons, including its first intercontinental ballistic missile since 2017. are exploiting divisions in the UN Security Council over Russia’s war with Ukraine to speed up weapons development.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has repeatedly threatened that North Korea will actively use nuclear weapons when threatened, raising security concerns for a conventionally armed adversary. is Korea.
North Korea has so far rejected calls by the United States and South Korea to return to nuclear diplomacy, which has been stalled since 2019 due to disagreements over the exchange of sanctions relief. The US takes the lead on North Korea and its disarmament steps.
The USS Reagan’s arrival in South Korea comes after Kim told the Pyongyang National Assembly this month that he would never give up the nuclear weapons and missiles he needs to fight what he considers hostile. of America.
Kim’s speech came as North Korean lawmakers passed a law affirming the country’s status as a nuclear power and authorizing the pre-use of nuclear weapons in a range of situations. situations where the country or its leadership is threatened, introducing the nuclear doctrine of escalation.
Speaking to the US and South Korean militaries on Saturday aboard the Reagan, South Korean Defense Minister Lee Jong-sup said the deployment of US strategic assets to the region demonstrates the US’ unwavering commitment to the region. the defense of Korea. He said North Korea would receive a strong response if it tried to use nuclear weapons, according to a statement from his ministry.
Sunday’s test could soon come after a more provocative weapons show as South Korean officials said they had detected signs that North Korea was preparing to test a missile system designed to designed to launch from a submarine. South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol’s office said Saturday that he was briefed on such developments before his flight home from a visit to Canada.
On Wednesday, 38 North, a website specializing in North Korea, said its analysis of commercial satellite images showed many barges and other ships gathered at the eastern port of Sinpo, where North Korea has factories. big ship building submarine. The report said North Korea may be preparing to launch a new submarine capable of firing ballistic missiles.
North Korea has worked very hard to be able to fire nuclear-armed missiles from submarines. Such weapons would theoretically strengthen North Korea’s deterrence by ensuring retaliation after suffering a land-based nuclear attack.
Ballistic missile submarines would also add a new maritime threat to North Korea’s growing collection of solid fuel weapons fired from land vehicles, which are being developed with purpose. clearly overwhelm the missile defense systems in South Korea and Japan.
However, experts say that the heavily sanctioned country will need more time, resources and major technological improvements to build at least some submarines that can navigate the seas and perform reliable attacks.
Associated Press writer Yuri Kageyama contributed to the story from Tokyo.