SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea fired four short-range ballistic missiles into the western sea on Saturday, November 5, South Korea’s military said, as Seoul and Washington ended a high-profile six-day military exercise.
North Korea has launched a series of missiles this week, including a possible failed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), drawing condemnation from Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo. It also raised speculation it could be readying for the resumption of nuclear testing for the first time since 2017.
Saturday’s launch, fired between 11:31 am and 11:59 am KST, comes as the United States and South Korea wrapped up a six-day Vigilant Storm exercise that began on October 31.
The missiles flew about 130 kilometers (km) (80 miles), reaching an altitude of about 20 km (10 miles), Seoul said.
The allied exercise involved some 240 military aircraft and two US B-1B strategic bombers, as well as four F-16 and four F-35A fighters, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).
This is the first time the B-1B has been deployed in US-South Korean drills since 2017, which shows “the combined defense capabilities and determination of the Republic of Korea and the US to resolutely respond to any provocations from North Korea, and the will of the US to implement a strong commitment to extended deterrence,” the JCS said in a statement.
Pyongyang on Friday demanded that the United States and South Korea halt “provocative” air exercises. South Korea said it scrambled warplanes in response to 180 North Korean military flights near the countries’ shared border on Friday.
On Wednesday, North Korea fired a daily record 23 missiles, with one landing off the coast of South Korea for the first time.
As the tit-for-that exchange continued through the week, Washington called for a public United Nations Security Council meeting on Friday, where it accused Russia and China of providing “blanket protection” to North Korea from further Security Council action.
A North Korean foreign ministry spokesperson issued a statement late on Friday warning that “sustained provocation is bound to be followed by sustained counteraction,” said state media KCNA.
In recent years, the UN Security Council has been split on how to deal with North Korea. In May, China and Russia vetoed a US-led push to impose more UN sanctions in response to North Korean missile launches. – Rappler.com