South Korea: North Korea launches cruise missile into the sea

Seoul, South Korea –

South Korea’s military said North Korea launched a cruise missile into the sea on Wednesday, three days after the North carried out what it called a simulated nuclear attack on South Korea in protest at the drills. military battle with the United States.

North Korea has stepped up weapons testing activities, saying it is responding to ongoing military training between South Korea and the United States that it sees as an invasion rehearsal. Analysts say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may be intent on expanding his arsenal to win more concessions from the outside, while also trying to bolster his image as a leader. strongly in the context of domestic economic difficulties.

The 11-day exercise between South Korea and the United States will end on Thursday. However, North Korea is expected to resume weapons tests as the US is said to be planning to send an aircraft carrier in the coming days to take part in another round of joint exercises with South Korea.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it had detected “several” cruise missile launches from the northeastern coastal town of Hamhung. It said the missiles had flown into the waters east of North Korea and that South Korean and US intelligence agencies were analyzing more details.

The launches were North Korea’s sixth missile test this month and the fourth since the US and South Korean militaries began large-scale military drills early last week that included drills. field exercises and computer simulations. The field training course is the largest of its kind since 2018.

The South Korean military will maintain a firm state of readiness and successfully complete the remainder of the exercise with the United States, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

North Korea keeps a huge stockpile of ballistic missile systems whose tests are banned under various United Nations Security Council resolutions. Eleven rounds of UN sanctions imposed on North Korea since 2006 have been passed because of North Korea’s previous nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

The United Nations Council did not ban North Korea’s cruise missile tests. However, experts say they still pose a serious threat to neighboring countries because they are designed to fly at lower altitudes to avoid radar detection.

North Korea has called some of its cruise and ballistic missiles “strategic weapons,” implying that it wants to arm them with nuclear warheads. Foreign experts debate whether North Korea can overcome the remaining technological barriers to possessing a working nuclear missile.

After more than 70 missile tests last year – the largest number in a year – North Korea has expanded its provocation in arms demonstrations into 2023, launching about 20 missiles in 10 separate events. . The weapons tested included short-range ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads capable of hitting South Korea and intercontinental ballistic missiles designed to hit the continental United States.

Wednesday’s launch was North Korea’s first cruise missile test since March 21, when the country said it had fired two cruise missiles from a submarine. Last month, North Korea launched what it called four long-range cruise missiles that demonstrated the ability to hit targets 2,000 kilometers (1,240 miles) away.

On Sunday, Mr Kim oversaw a test of a short-range ballistic missile launched from what could be a bunker dug in the ground. State media called it a simulated nuclear strike against unidentified South Korean targets to send a “stronger warning” to the United States and South Korea about their drills.

North Korean media said a fake nuclear warhead mounted on a missile exploded at 800 meters (2,600 feet) above the water, an altitude some experts say is intended to maximize damage.

It is the first time that North Korea has publicly announced such a height to detonate a nuclear weapon, although it has previously claimed to have carried out simulated nuclear attacks against its opponents.

By disclosing such information, North Korea may want to intimidate South Korea and the United States. After testing the longest-range ICBM Hwasong-17 last week, Mr Kim told state media that the launch was intended to “hit the enemy’s fear”.

The North’s massive testing showed that Kim was emboldened by his advanced nuclear arsenal. Last year, North Korea enacted a law authorizing the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons.

South Korea and the United States have responded by expanding their joint military exercises.

Seoul’s Defense Ministry said earlier on Wednesday that South Korea and the United States are planning to conduct a live-fire exercise of an “unprecedented” scale in June.

As part of ongoing joint drills, South Korean and US militaries held live-fire training on Wednesday at a site near the land border with North Korea. Colonel Brandon Anderson, deputy commander of the 2nd Infantry Division, emphasized that the exercise was defensive in nature.

“We (will) continue to do that,” he said. “That’s what we expect to do in the conflict and to do it well.”


Video journalist Yong Jun Chang of the Associated Press in Pocheon, South Korea, contributed to this report.

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