North Korea fires two missiles after South Korea-US drills

Launches carried out after Pyongyang warns of ‘inevitable’ response to rivals’ military exercises.

North Korea has fired two short-range missiles off its east coast, the South Korean military says. The launches were carried out less than an hour after Pyongyang had warned of an “inevitable” response to military drills staged by South Korean and US troops.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the launches from North Korea’s capital region on Thursday.

Japan’s defence ministry said the two ballistic missiles landed within the country’s exclusive economic zone, possibly having flown in an irregular trajectory. One landed in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea, about 110km (70 miles) northwest of Hegura island, part of Ishikawa prefecture, and the other about 250km (155 miles) away, Japanese authorities said.

US President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, was in Tokyo for meetings with his Japanese and South Korean counterparts, Cho Tae-yong and Takeo Akiba, when the launch took place.

The three discussed North Korea’s missile programme and confirmed they would work closely together to get Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons, according to a readout of the meeting released by Japan.

US-South Korean joint military drills

Earlier on Thursday, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol watched as several thousand South Korean and US troops took part in live-fire exercises in the latest show of force that the allies say is necessary to deter North Korea.

North Korea
South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, centre, visits the Seungjin Fire Training Field in Pocheon, South Korea, during South Korean-US joint military drills on June 15, 2023 [Jung Yeon-je/Reuters]

A spokesperson for North Korea’s Ministry of National Defence said the drills were escalating military tensions in the region and its forces would sternly respond to “any kind of protests or provocations by enemies”.

Pyongyang unsuccessfully tried to launch a spy satellite late last month in its first satellite launch attempt since 2016. The rocket booster and payload plunged into the sea.

North Korea’s ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programmes are banned by United Nations Security Council resolutions that have sanctioned the country.

Diplomatic efforts to reduce tensions or persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear arsenal have stalled.

North Korea
An explosion destroys a liaison office built by South Korea in the border town of Kaesong, North Korea, on June 16, 2020, in this picture supplied by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency. [KCNA via Reuters]

South Korea sued North Korea on Wednesday for $35m in compensation for a liaison office that North Korea blew up in 2020 in a case highlighting the breakdown of ties between the neighbours.

Source link