In this photo courtesy of South Korea’s Ministry of Defense, US and South Korean Air Force fighter jets fly over the Korean peninsula during a joint aviation exercise on Feb. 19, 2023.
South Korean Ministry of Defense | Handout | Getty Images
North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles and artillery shells into eastern waters on Monday, escalating hostility to US-South Korea military exercises it sees as rehearsals for an invasion.
The weapons launch follows Saturday’s intercontinental ballistic missile launch and North Korea’s threat to take an unprecedentedly strong response. North Korea may expand its arsenal by conducting new tests amid stalled negotiations with rival nations, and may eventually use its increased military strength to extract greater concessions from the United States. can.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement that it detected two missile launches Monday morning from a west coast town just north of North Korea’s capital Pyongyang.
South Korea has stepped up surveillance and is working closely with the United States to maintain readiness, he said.
Japan’s defense ministry said both missiles landed in waters between the Korean peninsula and Japan. Japan condemned the launch as a threat to the peace and security of Japan and the international community.
Japan’s defense ministry said the first missile reached a maximum altitude of 100 kilometers (62 miles) and flew up to 400 kilometers (250 miles). The second missile reached an altitude of about 50 kilometers (30 miles) and flew for a distance of 350 kilometers (217 miles).
Also on Monday morning, North Korean long-range artillery units on the west coast fired two rounds of cross-country fire into waters to the east in response to what North Korean state media called Sunday’s U.S.-South Korea aerial exercises. North Korea’s official South Korean central government said it did. news agency. KCNA said North Korean artillery shells simulated strikes on targets up to 395 kilometers (245 miles) away.
North Korea said the launch included a new 600mm multiple rocket launch system that could be armed with “tactical” nuclear weapons intended for battlefield use. Some experts viewed the weapon system as a short-range ballistic missile.
“The frequency with which the Pacific Ocean is used as a firing range will depend on the behavioral characteristics of the US military,” Kim Yo-jong, the powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, said in a statement shared by state media. “We are fully aware that US military strategic offensive moves mean that there has been a recent increase in activity around the Korean Peninsula.”
She called the United States “the worst lunatic” and threatened an unspecified “corresponding counterattack” in response to future US military movements.
She may be referring to the US flyover of B-1B long-range supersonic bombers on Sunday for separate exercises with South Korea and Japan. It conducted its first missile test since Jan. 1, in response to the launch of a Mars-15 intercontinental ballistic missile off the east coast on Saturday.
North Korea is very sensitive to deploying B-1B bombers that can carry large amounts of conventional weapons.
North Korea’s state media said on Sunday that the ICBM test was intended to further enhance its “lethal” nuclear strike capability and verify the reliability of the weapon and the combat readiness of the country’s nuclear force. In her earlier statement, Kim Yo-jong threatened to take additional forceful measures against upcoming military exercises between the United States and South Korea.
Allies say their exercises are defensive in nature, but North Korea has adamantly condemned the regular South Korea-US military exercises as the practice of aggression against the north. frequently use rival training as an excuse to hone and perfect their weapon systems.
South Korean and US forces are scheduled to hold a tabletop exercise this week to strengthen their joint response to a possible use of nuclear weapons by North Korea. The allies also plan to conduct another joint computer simulation exercise and field training in March.
Last year, North Korea launched more than 70 missiles, setting an annual record. North Korea says many of these weapons tests are a warning to previous U.S.-South Korea military exercises. It has also passed legislation that allows for the preemptive use of nuclear weapons in a wide range of scenarios.
Kim Jong Un entered 2023 calling for an “exponential increase” in the country’s nuclear warheads, mass production of battlefield tactical nuclear weapons targeting South Korea, and development of more advanced ICBMs targeting the United States.