South Korea says North Korea launched ballistic missile ahead of joint US exercise

South Korea’s military said on Thursday it would maintain “full readiness” with the United States after it discovered North Korea had launched a short-range ballistic missile into waters off its west coast.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said the missile was launched from the western North Korean port city of Nampo around 6:20 p.m. local time, but did not specify how far the missile flew. .

“While enhancing surveillance and vigilance, our forces are working closely with the United States to maintain full readiness,” the JCS was quoted as saying. United Communications.

North Korean state media did not release a statement on the missile launch, but reported that Kim Jong-un saw a “fire strike drill” of an artillery unit tasked with striking an enemy airfield on Thursday.

Kim Jong-un has “overwhelmingly responded and contained” the country’s enemies, which he claimed were conducting “all kinds of more desperate war preparation moves,” according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). ordered his army to be ready. Said.

According to KCNA, the North Korean leader has also instructed its firepower strike force to strengthen its ability to carry out two strategic missions.

The missile launch came just days before the start of large-scale joint US-South Korea military exercises.

North Korea has previously threatened to face an “unprecedented and powerful counterattack” if the US and South Korea go ahead with planned joint exercises.

US capitalizes ‘all legs of the nuclear triad’

The US has pledged to use the nuclear triad. point to Three systems of U.S. nuclear weapons, including nuclear-capable heavy bombers, long-range ballistic missiles, and nuclear-armed submarines, to deter North Korean aggression.

“North Korea continues to be a rogue and a threat to the United States and its allies,” said Gen. Anthony Cotton, commander of the U.S. Strategic Command. Said Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday.

“We are rebuilding all legs of the nuclear triad, nuclear command, control, and communication systems to ensure their continued ability to serve as the foundation of our combined deterrence force,” added Cotton. rice field.

U.S. State Department spokesman Ned Price said on March 8 that the U.S. remains committed to protecting its allies and that North Korea will continue to face increasing “costs” until it changes its approach. rice field.

“We want North Korea to change its approach towards dialogue and diplomacy. Saidusing the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“Declaration of war”

North Korea’s leader’s sister, Kim Yo-jong, has warned that an attempt to intercept North Korea’s “strategic weapons test” would be seen as a “declaration of war” against a reclusive nation.

“The demonstration military actions and rhetoric of all kinds by the United States and South Korea are so enthusiastic that they should not go unnoticed and provide the conditions for North Korea to compel some action to deal with them. No doubt,” she said.

North Korea tensions on the Korean Peninsula
A test launch of the Hwasong-17 Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) at an undisclosed location in North Korea on March 24, 2022. (Korea News Service via Korea Central News Agency/AP)

The United States and South Korea say their joint military exercises are defensive in nature, but North Korea views them as “hostile acts.”

North Korea warned that the increased presence of US strategic assets in the region would push the security situation to an “extreme red line”.

Mr Price said the United States had been offering direct talks with North Korea “without preconditions” for more than a year, but North Korea rejected Washington’s diplomatic offers and responded only with provocations.

“Our diplomatic overtures remain. We would like the opportunity to discuss these issues directly,” Price told reporters last week.

North Korea conducted a series of missile launches last year, including the Hwasong-17, the largest intercontinental ballistic missile banned under UN Security Council resolutions on North Korea’s missile program.