The South Korean military said North Korea fired “suspicious intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs)” on Wednesday, especially hours after US President Joe Biden left the area, who came to Asia to reaffirm its support for Seoul and Tokyo. The nuclear threat from Pyongyang.
At least three missiles were fired into the Sea of Japan at 6 a.m. (2100 GMT), 06:37 a.m., and 06:42 a.m. from Sunan, a suburb of Pyongyang, Seoul, he said.
“The first ballistic missile (alleged ICBM) has a range of about 360 km and an altitude of about 540 km,” South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. The second ballistic missile was “lost at an altitude of 20 km”, and the third projectile, a suspected short-range ballistic missile, traveled about 760 km at an altitude of about 60 km. Japan’s Ministry of Defense said one of the ballistic missiles followed an “irregular trajectory”.
Pyongyang is pursuing technology that would allow missiles to maneuver after launch, including “hypsonic hover technology” that would make it harder for missile defense systems to intercept.
A provocation as Pyongyang still refuses any dialogue
“North Korea’s successive launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles and short-range ballistic missiles today is an illegal act in direct violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions,” the Seoul government said in a statement after the National Security Council meeting.
The South Korean military also said that South Korea and the United States conducted “surface-to-surface missile firing exercises” and mobilized warplanes in response to “North Korea’s alleged provocations regarding ICBMs and missiles”.
“The United States condemns multiple ballistic missile launches by North Korea,” a US State Department spokesperson said late Tuesday, using North Korea’s official name. “We call on the DPRK to avoid further provocation and engage in constructive meaningful dialogue,” he said.
The North Korean regime, under UN sanctions over its weapons programs, has stepped up missile tests in recent months, blaming the “hostile” stance of the United States. In March it tested an intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time since 2017. South Korean and American intelligence services suspect he is planning an imminent nuclear test, the first in five years.
The US government recently announced that it would expect a “provocation” from Pyongyang during or just after Joe Biden’s visit, who wrapped up his tour of South Korea and Japan on Tuesday evening.
US and South Korea preparing for a possible nuclear attack
During his stay in Seoul, the American president and his new South Korean counterpart, Yoon Suk-yeol, talked about the intensification of joint military exercises, as well as the deployment of warplanes or missiles on the peninsula, according to the latter. Prepare for nuclear attack”.
The increase in American-South Korean maneuvers risks angering Pyongyang, which sees these exercises as rehearsals for the invasion. These maneuvers have been curtailed in recent years due to the pandemic, allowing Biden and the predecessors of Yoon, Donald Trump and Moon Jae-in to attempt rapprochement with North Korea.
Shortly before he left South Korea for Japan on Sunday, Joe Biden sent a singular message to Kim Jong Un. Asked by a journalist if he had a message for the North Korean leader, the president replied succinctly: “Hello. Period”.
It’s a way of signaling that Washington is open to dialogue with North Korea even in the absence of reciprocity.
Talks with Pyongyang have stalled since the failed 2019 summit between Kim and then-US President Donald Trump. The North Korean regime has ignored all offers of dialogue made by Washington.
North Korea continues to reject Covid-19 vaccines
During his visit to South Korea, Joe Biden also noted that Washington had offered to provide North Korea with a vaccine against Covid-19, but had “no response”.
Since the beginning of May, more than three million people have been affected by “fever”, according to the term used by the official media, and 68 people have died in North Korea, according to the latest official report released on Wednesday.
With an unvaccinated population of 25 million, the country has been completely cut off from the world to protect itself from the virus since the start of the pandemic, but the outbreak of contamination with the Omicron variant in neighboring countries has defeated this strategy. .
How this health crisis will affect the military decisions of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is the great unknown that the Americans, South Koreans and Japanese are trying to clarify.
On May 12, North Korea conducted a ballistic missile test on the same day that leader Kim first declared an “emergency” over the Covid epidemic.