North Korea says missile launch was a response to rivals’ exercises

The missile was launched on Thursday morning, hours before South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol was due to meet Japan’s Prime Minister Fumio Kishida for a summit aimed in part at rebuilding security ties between America’s allies in the face of North Korea’s nuclear threats.

With four missile displays in about a week, North Korea has intensified its tit-for-tat response to ongoing US-South Korean military exercises that are the largest of their kind in years.

The Biden administration wants to improve ties between South Korea and Japan, which have declined due to historical problems in recent years, while pushing to strengthen its network of alliances in Asia to counter the nuclear threat from North Korea and the growing influence of China. .

North Korea Koreas Tensions
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (Korea Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

In addition to their combined exercises that began on Monday and will run through March 23, the US and South Korea are also participating in anti-submarine warfare exercises, along with Japan, Canada and India, which began on Wednesday.

North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said leader Kim Jong Un oversaw the test launch of the Hwasong-17 missile and stressed the need to “instill fear in enemies” by what he called the ” open hostility” shown to the North by the US-South Korea exercises.

Launched at a high angle to avoid the territory of North Korea’s neighbors, the missile reached a maximum altitude of 6,045 kilometers (3,756 miles) and traveled 1,000 kilometers (621 miles) before landing in waters off the country’s east coast. KCNA said.

The South Korean and Japanese militaries similarly assessed the flight, indicating that the continental United States is within range of the missile.

It is not clear whether North Korea has developed nuclear bombs small enough to fit on its long-range rockets or the technology to ensure that its warheads survive re-entry into the atmosphere when fired on a normal trajectory.

North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper published photos of Kim watching from afar as the missile took off from a launch vehicle parked on an airport runway.

Mr. Kim was accompanied by a girl who appeared to be his daughter, believed to be named Kim Ju Ae and about 10 years old.

She has accompanied him to various military events since she first revealed herself publicly during the launch of another ICBM in November.

North Korea Koreas Tensions
KCNA said the launch of ICBMs sends a “stronger warning” to North Korea’s rivals (Korea Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

Analysts say their public appearances at military events are intended to link the dynastic rule of Kim’s family to the nuclear arsenal that Kim sees as the best guarantee of his survival.

Rodong Sinmun also posted photos that were allegedly taken by a camera on the missile as it soared into space. They showed a rounded view of Earth, with scattered clouds over what appeared to be the Korean Peninsula and the Asian coastline.

The photos were apparently intended as proof that the missile would be able to accurately hit its target, said Cheong Seong-Chang, a senior analyst at South Korea’s private Sejong Institute.

KCNA said the ICBM launch sends a “stronger warning” to North Korea’s rivals who are ratcheting up tensions with their “frantic, provocative and aggressive large-scale war games.”

Kim said it is crucial that North Korea’s nuclear missile forces stand ready to counterattack the rivals with “overwhelming offensive measures at any time” and make them realize that their persistent and expanded military actions “will bring a serious and irreversible for them,” according to KCNA. .

Lee Hyojung, spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of Unification, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said it is deeply regrettable that the North continues to use US-South Korean military exercises as an excuse for provocative military demonstrations.

“It is clear that North Korea’s reckless nuclear and missile development is the cause of escalating tensions on the Korean peninsula,” he said, urging Pyongyang to return to dialogue.


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