- Three missiles were fired from near Pyongyang, South Korea
- The apparent trials came after Biden held summits in Seoul, Tokyo
- US, Korea test missile in response
- The new S. Korean President N.Korea has promised a tough stance on weapons testing
SEOUL, May 25 (Reuters) – North Korea fired three missiles on Wednesday after US President Joe Biden ended a trip to Asia and agreed to new measures to deter the nuclear-armed state.
Kim Dae-hyo, South Korea’s deputy national security adviser, said North Korea had reportedly conducted several tests with the explosive device in preparation for the seventh nuclear test, but that the test was unlikely to take place in the coming days.
In response to the missile launch, the United States and South Korea conducted joint direct-fire exercises, including surface-to-surface missile tests involving the U.S. Army Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) and the southern Hyunmoo-2 SRBM, both armies said.
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They demonstrated other military strengths, such as dozens of fighter jets in the “Elephant Walk” system, highlighting the tough policy of the new South Korean President Eun-suk-yol on the rapid weapons tests in the north.
His predecessor, the liberal Moon Jae-in, built his legacy in an ultimately unsuccessful attempt to engage with Pyongyang, but began holding several military events in the fall days of his administration this year after North Korea tested a series of missiles.
At the summit with Biden over the weekend, which began on May 10, June pledged that the United States would enhance joint military exercises and deploy “strategic assets” – typically nuclear-capable bombers, submarines or aircraft carriers – in the region. It is necessary to prevent North Korea. read more
“Our determination to retaliate against any North Korean provocation, including the launch of the ICBM, and our extreme ability and readiness to carry out a surgical strike on the origin of the provocation is a testament to the strength of our military,” a statement from South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
In a telephone conversation with US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin, South Korea’s defense chief called for the stabilization of US strategic assets, and Seoul’s Defense Ministry said both sides agreed to strengthen the U.S.’s extended blockade in the face of provocations in the North. read more
North Korea has launched missile launches this year, for the first time in almost five years, testing its largest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBMs) with hypersonic weapons.
Washington and Seoul officials recently warned that North Korea was ready to resume nuclear testing for the first time since 2017, perhaps during Biden’s visit, during his first visit to Asia as president.
South Korean joint leaders said Wednesday that all three missiles were launched from the Sunan area of the northern capital, Pyongyang, where its international airport has become a hub for missile tests.
The first missile appeared to be the largest ICBM in the north, the Hwasong-17, while the second unspecified missile appeared to have failed in midair, said Deputy National Security Adviser Kim. The third missile is a short-range ballistic missile aimed at improving its nuclear delivery capability, he said.
“We think there are political motives behind testing the security preparedness of our new administration and sending a strategic message to South Korea and the United States after President Biden’s departure,” Kim told a news conference.
Military sources in Seoul told Reuters experts believe the second and third missiles, believed to be KN-23 SRBMs, were first tested in 2019 and were designed to avoid missile defense by flying in low, “depressed” trajectories.
South Korea described Pyongyang’s Hwasong-17 test as a failure in March, and launched a 2017 self – imposed ban on long – range missile and nuclear testing between stalled nuclear disarmament talks with Washington. read more
During Wednesday’s test, the suspected ICBM flew 360 km (224 miles) to a maximum altitude of 540 km, while the SRBM flew 760 km to a maximum altitude of 60 km, JCS said.
Message to allies
A White House official said Biden, who left Japan on Tuesday evening, had been briefed on the missiles. A foreign ministry spokesman urged the North to “avoid further provocations and engage in lasting and concerted dialogue.”
Japanese officials have condemned the tests, and Chief Secretary Hirokasu Matsuno has said the north could take even more provocative measures, including a nuclear test.
“The continuing provocations by North Korea will lead to stronger, faster South Korean-US blockades and deeper isolation,” the UN government said in a separate statement.
The Seoul Ministry of Foreign Affairs has agreed with South Korean Foreign Minister Park Geun-hye and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on a phone call to accelerate efforts to strengthen the blockade and facilitate a new UN sanctions resolution.
South Korea and the United States have offered to send the COVID-19 vaccine to North Korea, which is fighting its first confirmed outbreak and urging Pyongyang to return to diplomacy. read more
But there has been no response from Pyongyang to diplomatic revelations or aid, Biden said.
Shortly after Biden’s visit to the area, Russian and Chinese bombers launched a joint patrol near Japanese and South Korean air defense zones on Tuesday. read more
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Hyunhee Shin Report; Additional reporting by Xu-Hyang Choi and Josh Smith in Seoul, David Dolan and Mariko Katsumura in Tokyo and David Brunstrom, Philip Stewart, Kanishka Singh and Eric Beach in Washington; Editing by Richard Bullin, Jerry Doyle and Edmund Cleman
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