According to South Korean military officials and national media, North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles toward the Japan Sea, located off the east coast of the Korean Peninsula on Friday.
Exacerbating tensions in the region, the Missile launches took place four days after North Korea and South Korea traded warning shots off the west coast.
The launch also coincides with the conclusion of the 12-day “Hoguk” military exercises in South Korea, which this year also included an unidentified number of American troops – a semiaquatic operation that involved the air force, marine corps, and navy of South Korea.
Once Again, North Korea Fired Two Short-Range Ballistic Missiles Into The Ocean
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff’s statement reveals that the missiles were launched from Tongchon county in North Korea’s eastern Kangwon province between 11:59 and 12:18 p.m. local time. At an altitude of roughly 24 kilometers (15 miles), they had traveled about 230 kilometers (143 miles) (JCS).
“The Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said it detected the launches from the Tongchon area in Kangwon Province,” Yonhap News Agency, South Korea, confirmed the Joint Chiefs of Staff’s statement.
Furious at the event, the JCS stated that the test was a “serious act of provocation” that imperils peace and stability on the peninsula and was a “clear violation” of UN Security Council resolutions prohibiting North Korea from deploying ballistic missiles. In a related report by Yonhap, the JCS informed reporters that South Korea’s military is “maintaining a full readiness posture in close cooperation with the United States.”
Major joint air drills called “Vigilant Storm” are also scheduled to take place between South Korean and American military the following week, as per the media.
Such military exercises enrage Pyongyang, which interprets them as invasion drills and defends its barrage of missile launches as essential “countermeasures.”
Seoul and Washington have frequently warned Pyongyang that it may be about to perform an atomic bomb test for the first time since 2017 after a flurry of ballistic missile launches.
North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has prioritized the development of tactical nukes, which are smaller, combat-ready weapons. Seoul recently issued a warning that North Korea may be planning to carry out numerous consecutive nuclear tests as part of this push.
North Korea is about to perform its seventh nuclear test, according to South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol.
“It appears they have already completed preparations for a seventh nuclear test,” the President conveyed to the parliament on Tuesday during a budget speech.
The inter-Korean border is around 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the launch site in Tongchon. Compared to other launch sites North Korea has reportedly used this year, the area was closer to South Korean soil.
According to a CNN count, North Korea has launched a total of 28 missiles so far this year. From 2006 to 2017, they also conducted six nuclear tests in addition to the ballistic missile trials.
Hence not being able to write off another major attack, a probable nuclear strike, the US, South Korea, and Japan warned that an “unparalleled” response would be warranted if North Korea goes for it again.
The head of the UN’s nuclear watchdog told reporters on Thursday that “everyone is holding their breath about” a prospective nuclear test by North Korea because it might be “confirmation of a program which is moving full steam ahead in a way that is incredibly concerning.”
“We are following this very, very closely. We hope it doesn’t happen but indications, unfortunately, go in another direction,” said Rafael Grossi, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Director-General.