Kim Jong-un’s North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles into the waters, directly reacting to the US deployment of B-1B bombers for joint military exercises.
These recent moves are escalating regional tensions as Washington assists its allies in bracing for potential threats. Japanese sources report that while two missiles were launched, only one landed outside Tokyo’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) confirmed the missile firing, explaining it as part of a “tactical nuclear strike drill.” They further detailed that the objective was to simulate “scorched earth strikes” targeting major control centres and airfields in South Korea.
The media reports conveyed that one missile was aimed northeastward at Pyongyang International Airport, detonating 400 meters above its intended target in an airburst. North Korea aimed to send an unmistakable message to its adversaries through this aggressive display.
South Korea has since heightened its surveillance and vigilance, anticipating further provocations. The Joint Chiefs of Staff in South Korea emphasized their commitment to staying fully prepared through the tight-knit cooperation between South Korea and the United States.
Regional Military Activities and International Concerns
The missile launches came on the heels of an 11-day joint military exercise between the US and South Korea, a drill North Korea had expressed discontent over. Additionally, B-1B bomber drills were observed being conducted by Japanese and South Korean forces on Wednesday.
It’s essential to note that the United Nations Security Council has forbidden missile launches by North Korea and imposed rigorous sanctions against the nation led by Kim Jong-un.
White House spokesperson John Kirby voiced concerns regarding possible arms negotiations between Russia and North Korea, pointing out that such deals would breach established sanctions. Kirby highlighted the visit of Russian Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu to North Korea, suspecting an attempt to procure artillery ammunition for Russia.
Adding to the regional dynamics, US Space Force officials revealed ongoing efforts to integrate missile tracking systems between the US and South Korea. This collaborative initiative may soon incorporate Japan. As a result, US President Joe Biden, in his discussions with South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, concluded that by year-end, the trio would collaborate to share real-time data on North Korea’s missile activities.