North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea Monday morning in a tit-for-tat response to U.S. and South Korean military drills featuring the B-1B bomber, according to media reports.
North Korea’s second test launch of ballistic weapons in three days prompted Japan to call for an emergency United Nations Security Council meeting, The Associated Press reported. Pyongyang conducted the first test firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) since the new year on Saturday, which state media characterized as a response to increasingly “serious” military threats from the U.S. and South Korea and proof of North Korea’s ability to strike enemies with a nuclear weapon, according to state-controlled media outlet KCNA.
“As expected, the way the fools think and play in every occasion is incurring laughter of the world,” Kim Yo Jong, the powerful sister of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, said in a statement. (RELATED: US Is Racing To Achieve Atomic Supremacy Over Its Key Foes As ‘Second Nuclear Age’ Begins, Experts Say)
South Korea’s military first detected the ballistic missile launches early Monday morning, and Japan said both missiles splashed down in waters outside its exclusive economic zone, the AP reported. However, the distances traveled, up to 245 miles according to KCNA, suggest that South Korea is within range.
The surprise short-range missile launches Monday are a response to “movement of U.S. forces strategic strike means” — referring to the bomber aircraft — around the Pacific, Kim said. “We will take corresponding counteraction if it is judged to be any direct or indirect threat.”
“The enemies are persistently resorting to such military demonstrations, not concealing that the air drill was done in response to the ICBM launching drill by the DPRK on Feb. 18,” KCNA said.
U.S., Japanese and South Korean militaries staged last-second military drills Sunday in response to Pyongyang’s ICBM test the day prior, the AP reported. As part of the joint drills, the U.S. demonstrated F-15 fighter jets and the supersonic B-1B bomber, which can carry a large conventional weapons payload.
Joint drills between the U.S. and South Korea have grown more intense in recent years as North Korea’s nuclear program continues to expand, the AP reported.
North Korea conducted a record number of missile tests in 2022, including ICBM launches. State media portrayed many of those launches as practice runs for a future invasion of South Korea.
Pyongyang has threatened an “unprecedentedly” powerful response to planned nuclear drills between the U.S. and South Korea, which the country sees as preparation for an invasion, according to the AP.
The closed country showed off a massively expanded intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) arsenal capable of delivering nuclear warheads to the U.S. in an annual Wednesday-night parade. Featured in the parade were at least 11 of North Korea’s most up-to-date Hwasong-17 ICBMs — the most ever displayed at once — and a mock-up of a more advanced version that can deploy faster and evade detection, state media photos showed, according to The Wall Street Journal.
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