South Korea

US troops in South Korea step up missile defense drills amid signs of North Korea test

Reuters
US troops in South Korea step up missile defense drills amid signs of North Korea test

FILE PHOTO: A soldier stands guard at a checkpoint on the Grand Unification Bridge which leads to the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex in North Korea, just south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, in Paju, South Korea, June 17, 2020.

REUTERS/Kim Hong-Ji/File Photo

Tension on the Korean Peninsula is growing amid speculation North Korea could test its largest intercontinental ballistic missile as soon as this week at full range

SEOUL, South Korea – US forces stationed in South Korea said on Tuesday, March 15, they have enhanced the intensity of exercises for their Patriot missile air defense system amid signs that North Korea might soon conduct another long-range missile test.

Tension on the Korean Peninsula has been growing amid speculation North Korea could test its largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) as soon as this week at full range, after threatening to break a self-imposed 2017 moratorium on long-range missile and nuclear testing.

US Forces Korea (USFK) said its air defense artillery brigade stationed in the Osan air base has recently increased the intensity of its certification exercise to demonstrate its capabilities following North Korea’s recent missile tests.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance at the Seohae satellite launch site, in North Korea, in this photo released on March 11, 2022 by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). KCNA via REUTERS

“DPRK’s significant increase in its missile testing activity undermines peace, security and destabilizes the Northeast Asia region,” USFK said, using the acronym of North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“While this type of training is routinely conducted by US Patriot batteries … its increased intensity of its certification underscores the seriousness USFK takes against the DPRK’s recent missile launch behaviour,” USFK said.

A spokesman for South Korea’s defense ministry said it was also closely monitoring North Korea’s movements and maintaining a robust combined readiness posture with the US military.

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South Korea sees imminent prospect of North ICBM test – newspaper

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On Friday, Washington and Seoul said in a rare joint announcement that Pyongyang had used its largest-ever ICBM in two recent launches, in the guise of satellite launch preparations.

But the launches did not demonstrate the missile’s full range, and analysts said the North might have used only one stage of the missile or adjusted its fuel volume to fly at lower altitudes.

The missile system, the Hwasong-17, was unveiled at a military parade in 2020 and reappeared at a defense exhibition in October 2021.

USFK also said the US Indo-Pacific Command has recently enhanced its ballistic missile defense directive.

The US military in Japan on Tuesday flew its RC-135S Cobra Ball spy aircraft over the Korean peninsula, a day after sending an RC-135V Rivet Joint reconnaissance plane, the Yonhap news agency said, citing a flight-tracking website.

North Korea accused of testing ICBM system and restoring nuclear test site

North Korea accused of testing ICBM system and restoring nuclear test site

– Rappler.com