North Korea creates new threat, US bombers fly after ICBM test

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA—North Korea said on Sunday that the test of its latest intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) was intended to further bolster its “lethal” nuclear strike capability, citing a link between the United States and South Korea. threatened additional strong measures against future military exercises.

The US responded by flying long-range supersonic bombers in a show of force late Sunday for separate joint exercises with South Korean and Japanese fighters.

North Korea’s first missile test since Jan. 1, Saturday’s ICBM test, was seen by Chairman Kim Jong Un as an opportunity to expand North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and gain an edge in future deals with the United States. It shows that you are using your rival’s training. Experts say North Korea may conduct regular operational exercises involving her ICBM.

North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency said the launch of the Hwasong-15 ICBM was organized “suddenly” without prior notice on the direct orders of Kim Jong-un.

KCNA said the launch was designed to confirm the reliability of the nuclear weapon and the combat readiness of the country’s nuclear force. Launched at a high angle, the missile reached a maximum altitude of about 5,770 kilometers (3,585 miles), flew about 990 kilometers (615 miles) for 67 minutes, and then accurately hit a preset area of ​​the ocean. Korean Peninsula and Japan.

It seems that the steep launch was to avoid neighboring countries. Details of the flight reported by North Korea are broadly consistent with launch information previously assessed by neighbors, indicating that the weapon could theoretically reach the U.S. mainland if launched on a standard ballistic trajectory. I’m here.

KCNA said the Hwasong-15 launch demonstrated North Korea’s “strong physical nuclear deterrence” and efforts to “transform the capability of a lethal nuclear counterattack against an adversary into a very powerful and irresistible one.” said KCNA.

Some experts say North Korea has not mastered how to protect its warheads from the harsh conditions of re-entry into the atmosphere, which is why North Korea has launched intercontinental ballistic missiles with functioning nuclear warheads. Whether it has or not remains a source of external debate. North Korea says it has acquired such technology.

Hwasong-15 is one of North Korea’s three existing ICBMs, all of which use liquid propellants that require pre-launch injection and the ability to remain fueled for long periods of time. You can not. North Korea is pushing to build solid-fuel ICBMs that are more maneuverable and harder to detect before launch.

Ankit Panda, an expert at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said: “Chairman Kim Jong-un believes that the technical reliability of the country’s liquid-propellant ICBM forces is well tested and evaluated, and that regular operations of this kind are possible. It is highly likely that they decided that the exercises were now possible.”

Chang Young-keun, a missile expert at South Korea’s Korea Aerospace University, said North Korea appears to have launched an upgraded version of the Hwasong-15 ICBM. Chan said information provided by North Korea indicated that the missile would likely have a longer potential range than the standard Hwasong-15.

Later on Sunday, US B-1B bombers and other aircraft trained separately with South Korean and Japanese fighters over and near the Korean Peninsula. A South Korean military statement said Sunday’s drill reaffirmed Washington’s “ironproof” security commitment to South Korea.

korea korea tensions
U.S. Air Force B-1B bombers (C) form a formation with ROK Air Force F-35A fighters (top) and U.S. Air Force F-16 fighters (bottom) over the Korean Peninsula during joint air training in South Korea. South Korea on February 19, 2023 in flight above. (Korea Ministry of Defense via AP)

North Korea is sensitive to the deployment of US B-1B bombers, which can carry large amounts of conventional weapons.

The North Korean launch came a day after Seoul and Washington vowed an “unprecedented” forceful response to a series of military exercises planned in the coming weeks.

In a statement on Sunday, Kim Jong-un’s influential sister, Kim Yo-jong, said South Korea and the United States would “openly demonstrate their dangerous greed and gain military superiority and a dominant position on the Korean Peninsula.” I’m trying,” he complained.

“I warn you to monitor your enemy’s every move and take a very strong and overwhelming counterattack that responds to your every move,” she said.

Allies say their exercises are defensive in nature, but North Korea has adamantly denounced regular South Korea-US military exercises as rehearsals for aggression.

“We now know that the actions taken by the United States and South Korea are justified in terms of defense and deterrence. [North Korea’s] Reckless actions will be interpreted as hostile acts by North Korea and will be protested,” said Soo Kim, a security analyst at the Rand Corporation, California. There will always be food for

“Kim Jong Il, who has armed himself with nuclear weapons and has mastered the art of coercion and bullying, does not need self-defense. You can,” Su Kim said.

Adrian Watson, spokesman for the US National Security Council, said the US will take all necessary steps to ensure the security of the US mainland, South Korea and Japan. South Korea’s presidential National Security Council said it would seek to build an “overwhelming response capability” against a potential North Korean aggression, building on its military alliance with the United States.

South Korean and US forces are scheduled to hold a tabletop exercise this week to strengthen their joint response to a possible use of nuclear weapons by North Korea. The allies also plan to conduct another joint computer simulation exercise and field training in March.

South Korea’s and Japan’s foreign ministers met on the sidelines of a security conference in Germany on Saturday, agreeing to promote trilateral cooperation, including the United States, and deepening their views on the issue of forced mobilization during Japan’s colonial era. was replaced. According to South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, this is a key issue in efforts to improve relations with workers.

South Korea and Japan, both major allies of the United States, often quarreled over issues arising from Japan’s colonial rule of the Korean Peninsula from 1910 to 1945. But North Korea’s recent missile tests have prompted the two countries to explore ways to strengthen security cooperation.

Kim Hyun Jin