North Korea surprises and fires 8 missiles after US-Seoul exercise

North Korea surprises and fires 8 missiles after US-Seoul exercise

North Korea fired eight short-range ballistic missiles into the sea off its east coast on Sunday. The exercise, which lasted 30 minutes, was held a day after South Korea and the United States promoted joint military maneuvers with American aircraft carriers and provoked international reactions.

This is believed to represent the largest number of ballistic missiles launched by Pyongyang at the same time, expert Michael Duitsman of the US-based James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) told Reuters. .

Since the beginning of the year, the regime led by Kim Jong-un has carried out 18 weapons tests involving dozens of missiles — more tests than the combined tests carried out in the previous two years. Sunday’s launches were made from the capital’s Sunan region and three other locations, according to information from the South Korean military.

Seoul convened an emergency meeting of the National Security Council and said President Yoon Suk-yeol, who took office last month, has publicly reinforced increased collaboration with Washington in the area of ​​defense. This weekend’s test is the third since he was sworn in on the 10th.

On Saturday (4), in a South Korean and American partnership, large-scale three-day exercises with the 100,000-ton nuclear-powered aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan were concluded. The maneuver was the first joint between the two countries since Yoon took office and the first with an aircraft carrier since 2017.

In a statement, the South Korean General Staff said the exercise “cemented the determination of both countries to respond harshly to any North Korean provocation, while also demonstrating US commitment to the region.”

US President Joe Biden, who made his first trip to Asia as US leader last month, said during a news conference with his South Korean counterpart that Washington would deploy strategic assets if necessary to deter North Korea.

Japan also reacted to the launch. Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi described the North Korean exercise as an unprecedented frequency. “We can say that the large number of launches, from at least three places in a short period like this, is unusual,” he said. “This is an act that cannot be tolerated,” he continued.

The US Indo-Pacific Command, focused on the region between the Pacific and Indian Ocean coasts, said in a statement that the multiple launches reinforce the “destabilizing effort of North Korea’s illicit weapons program”, but that the event does not pose an immediate threat.

Sunday’s releases also came during a visit to Seoul by Sung Kim, a US official and former deputy secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. He met with South Korean and Japanese officials on Friday to discuss the possibility of North Korea carrying out a nuclear test.

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