North Korea tested an alleged intercontinental missile in a series of three shots on Wednesday, the South Korean military said, after US President Joe Biden’s trip to South Korea and Japan ended.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said at least three missiles were launched from the Sunan region of the North Korean capital Pyongyang, where much of the communist country’s latest weapons tests were carried out.
The military test came shortly after the end of US President Joe Biden’s visit to Japan and South Korea, a trip overshadowed by the threat of a nuclear test by the Pyongyang regime.
A spokesperson for US diplomacy condemned “the multiple launches” and urged North Korea to “refrain from further provocation and commit to a sustained and in-depth dialogue.
After the new launches, South Korea and the United States fired “ground-to-ground missiles” in response to North Korea’s “alleged ICBM (intercontinental ballistic missile) and missile provocations,” the Seoul army said.
The South Korean government, after a meeting of the National Security Council, said that the “successful” launch of the projectiles was “an illegal act in direct violation of UN Security Council resolutions”.
South Korea’s new president Yoon Suk-yeol said Pyongyang’s shooting, which has been approaching 20 since the beginning of the year, is “a serious provocation that threatens peace on the Korean peninsula and in the international community”.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea said in a statement that it “had detected at around 6:00 am (local time, 18:00 GMT on Tuesday), 6:37 am and 6:42 am the fire of ballistic missiles from the Sunan region” towards the sea. of Japan on the east coast.
“The first ballistic missile (a supposed ICBM) had a range of 360 kilometers and an altitude of 540 kilometers,” the note states.
The second projectile “disappeared at an altitude of 20 km” and the third traveled 760 km at an altitude of almost 60 km, the statement added.
– United States “prepared” –
The firings add to a record series of military tests by Pyongyang this year, which includes the launch of a full-range intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time since 2017.
Yoon, who assumed the presidency this month, has advocated toughening Seoul’s policy towards its communist neighbor to the north after five years of fruitless diplomacy by his predecessor, Moon Jae-in.
Wednesday’s tests were “clearly timed to take place on Biden’s return from his visit to South Korea and Japan,” said Park Won-gon, a professor at Ewha University.
During their stay in Seoul, Biden and Yoon Suk-yeol agreed to “establish talks to expand the scope and scale of joint military exercises and training in the face of the threat posed by North Korea.
“North Korea’s objections to the announcements were expressed with the missile launches,” added Professor Park.
Before saying goodbye on Sunday from the South Korean capital to Japan, from where he returned on Tuesday to Washington, Biden said that the United States was “prepared for anything North Korea does”.
Pyongyang considers the joint military exercises in Washington and Seoul as preparations for an invasion.
In recent months, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has called on several occasions to accelerate the program to modernize its army and its arsenal, equipped with nuclear weapons.
Despite the recent strong outbreak of covid in the impoverished and isolated country, new satellite images showed that North Korea had restarted the construction of a nuclear reactor.
Both South Korea and the United States recently warned that the communist country, subject to international sanctions over its weapons and nuclear program, was preparing a new atomic test.
Before Biden’s visit, South Korea said preparations had been completed and Pyongyang was just waiting for the right moment to do so.
South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said it was “regrettable” that Pyongyang uses its resources for weapons development, not to treat the pandemic and improve the lives of the population. .
According to North Korean state media, the country has recorded more than three million people with “fever” and 68 deaths since the outbreak of the Covid outbreak in late April.
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