Mon. Dec 5th, 2022

North Korea launched a ballistic missile toward its eastern waters on Thursday, South Korea’s military said, hours after North Korea threatened to launch a “fierce” military response to the US, which is strengthening its security commitment to its allies South Korea and Japan.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a brief statement that it had detected a launch from North Korea, but did not provide further details such as how far the weapon flew or where it fell.

Earlier on Thursday, North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hue warned that the recent agreement between the US, South Korea and Japan at a summit on the North would make tensions on the Korean Peninsula “more unpredictable”.

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Choe’s statement was North Korea’s first official response to President Joe Biden’s trilateral summit with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts in Cambodia on Sunday. In their joint statement, the three leaders strongly condemned North Korea’s recent missile tests and agreed to work together to strengthen deterrence, while Biden reaffirmed the US commitment to defend South Korea and Japan with a full range of capabilities, including nuclear weapons.

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Choe said the US-South Korea-Japan summit would bring the situation on the Korean Peninsula to a “more unpredictable stage.”

“The more the US is eager to ‘enhanced extended deterrence’ to its allies and the more it intensifies provocative and bluffing military activities on the Korean Peninsula and in the region, the more directly proportionate (North Korea’s) military counteraction will be,” Choe said. pose a more serious, real and imminent threat to the US and its vassal forces.”

Click to play video: 'North Korea fires 2 missiles into eastern waters after US and South Korean military exercises'

North Korea fired 2 missiles towards the eastern waters following US and South Korean military exercises

Choe did not say what steps North Korea might take, but said “the US will be well aware that it is taking a gamble that it will surely regret.”

North Korea has consistently maintained that the recent weapons testing activities are a legitimate military countermeasure to what it calls military exercises between U.S. and South Korean forces, which it views as practice to launch an attack on the North. Washington and Seoul have said their drills are defensive in nature.

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In recent months, South Korean and US troops have expanded their regular drills and continued trilateral training with Japan in response to North Korea’s push to increase its nuclear and missile arsenals. For the first time since 2017, an American aircraft carrier and American B-1B supersonic bombers participated in these exercises. In recent years, annual military exercises between Seoul and Washington have been scaled back or canceled to support now-dormant diplomacy with North Korea and to protect against the COVID-19 pandemic.

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In her statement on Thursday, Choe said that “the US and its followers have organized large-scale war exercises for aggression one after another, but have failed to contain North Korea’s strong counter-action.”

There have been concerns that North Korea could carry out its first nuclear test in five years as its next major step towards strengthening its military capability against the United States and its allies.

US and South Korean officials say North Korea has completed preparations to carry out a nuclear test explosion at its remote test facility in the northeast. Some experts say the test, if carried out, would aim to develop nuclear warheads that would be mounted on short-range missiles capable of hitting key targets in South Korea, such as US military bases. They say North Korea will eventually seek to use its increased arsenal as leverage to pressure the United States into making concessions in future negotiations and recognizing it as a nuclear state.

© 2022 The Canadian Press