North Korea

North Korea fires 2 missiles into sea as South Korea wraps up drills


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North Korea fires 2 missiles into sea as South Korea wraps up drills

KIM JONG-UN. In this file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during a visit to the Central Officers School of the ruling Workers' Party in Pyongyang, North Korea, in this undated photo released on October 18, 2022 by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency.

KCNA via Reuters

(1st UPDATE) The launch comes four days after North and South Korea exchanged warning shots off the west coast amid heightened tension between them

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) off its east coast on Friday, South Korea’s military said, while wrapping up nearly two weeks of major drills aimed at deterring its neighbor.

The launch, at a time of growing fears that North Korea is readying for its first nuclear test since 2017, was the latest in a record year of tests, whether of short-range missiles, intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), or others.

The SRBMs were fired from the Tongcheon area of the North’s Gangwon province, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said, four days after the neighbours exchanged warning shots off the west coast amid rising tension.

“Our military is maintaining full readiness posture,” the JCS said in a statement, adding that it had stepped up monitoring and security while co-ordinating closely with the United States.

The launches did not pose an immediate threat to the United States or its allies, the US military’s Indo-Pacific Command said in a statement.

However they “highlight the destabilizing impact” of North Korea’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, it added.

North Korea has said that recent missile launches were in protest against the joint exercises, which it says are provocative and a rehearsal for an invasion.

South Korea and the United States say the exercises are defensive and needed to counter the North’s threats.

The United States and its allies believe North Korea could be about to resume nuclear bomb testing for the first time since 2017. South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol has said the North has completed all necessary technical preparations for an underground detonation at its Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, which has been officially shuttered since 2018.

North Korea conducted six nuclear tests at the site from 2006 to 2017.

The head of the UN nuclear watchdog on Thursday said a seventh North Korea nuclear test would be further “confirmation of a program which is moving full steam ahead in a way that is incredibly concerning.” 

South Korea has warned that a resumption of nuclear testing by North Korea would have to be met with an “unparalleled” response from the allies, but neither it nor the United States has given details. –

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