North Korea says it fired a ballistic missile as a warning sign

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North Korea says it fired ballistic missile as warning

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered his army on Saturday to conduct a surprise missile launch drill. (File photo)

North Korea confirmed on Sunday that it fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) the day before as a warning to Washington and Seoul, saying the successful “surprise” exercise demonstrates its “deadly nuclear counterattack” capabilities. .

In response, the South Korean military said on Sunday it had held aerial maneuvers with the United States, mobilizing stealth aircraft, at least one long-range American bomber Litter B-1B.

The exercise [helped] demonstrate the timely and immediate deployment of U.S. extended deterrence assets on the Korean Peninsula, demonstrating the overwhelming strength of the allies, the South Korean Defense Ministry said in a statement. /p>

Japan also conducted a joint military exercise with the United States on Sunday, the Japanese Defense Ministry said.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ordered a surprise launch drill at 8 a.m. local time on Saturday. A Hwasong-15 missile was then fired from Pyongyang airport during the afternoon, according to state agency KCNA. The first test of a Hwasong-15 was conducted by Pyongyang in 2017.

Seoul said at 5:22 p.m. Saturday that it had detected the launch of a ICBM that Tokyo says flew for 66 minutes before falling in its exclusive economic zone and which it has observed is capable of hitting the continental United States.

Pyongyang hailed the trial, the country's first in seven weeks, which it said demonstrates the effective [combat] capability of ICBM units, capable [of carrying out] a mobile and powerful counterattack, reported KCNA.

The launch is clear evidence of the reliability of Pyongyang's powerful physical nuclear deterrent, the agency added.

He came as Seoul and Washington prepare to conduct a simulation exercise, which is to be held next week in the US capital, to discuss what action to take in the event of the use of the x27;nuclear weapon by Pyongyang.

North Korea on Friday threatened to react with unprecedented force to the upcoming US-South Korean maneuvers, seeing them as preparations for armed conflict and the cause of a deterioration of the security situation on the Korean Peninsula.

According to US-based security expert Ankit Panda, Saturday's shooting is of considerable significance because it was ordered the same day, so it is not a " ;trial" traditional, but of an exercise.

“We should expect to see more exercises of this type.

—Ankit Panda, US-based security expert

Park Won-gon, a professor at Ewha University, says this is the first time Pyongyang has provided a detailed account from firing order to launch.

Kim Jong-un's clear indication of the order is significant, he believes. This essay shows that these weapons are all deployed for real combat and ready to launch at any time.

For Soo Kim, a former CIA analyst, the nine hours between the leader's order and the shooting is a long time, however. According to her, Pyongyang could face greater challenges if it carries out a launch under realistic conditions.

Relations between Pyongyang and Seoul are at their highest level. low for years. In 2022, the North called its status as a nuclear power irreversible, and Kim Jong-un called for exponential growth in the production of armaments, including tactical nuclear weapons.

South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol in response sought to strengthen cooperation with the United States, his key security ally, pledging to increase joint military exercises and improve security. #x27;Washington's expanded deterrence offer, including through nuclear means.

On Sunday, Pyongyang's spokeswoman and sister of its leader, Kim Yo Jong, announced asserted that it is these measures taken by Seoul and Washington that constantly endanger the peninsula and deteriorate its stability, according to KCNA.

“I warn that we will monitor every movement of the enemy and engage the corresponding very powerful and overwhelming countermeasure against all these hostile movements towards us.

—Kim Yo Jong, spokesperson for the North Korean regime

This shooting and these statements from Pyongyang seem to herald the start of high-intensity provocations from North Korea, Park Won-gon, a professor at Ewha University, told AFP. p>

What is different from 2022 is that last year their justification was that the launches were part of their five-year military plan, he explains in adding: Now [the North Koreans] are making it clear that they [will face] the United States and South Korea.

According to Mr. Park, the& #x27;Pyongyang's heightened aggressiveness could reveal a worsening domestic situation. South Korean officials recently signaled that the country may be facing severe food shortages after several years of self-imposed pandemic isolation.

Korea of the North always adopts an intransigent approach and creates external crises […] to overcome its internal difficulties. Uniting the population by insisting on the American-South Korean threat is a classic North Korean attitude.

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