Sun. Dec 4th, 2022

North Korea launched a short-range 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 U.S., which is strengthening its security commitment to its allies South Korea and Japan. .

South Korea’s military detected the launch from North Korea’s eastern coastal region of Wonsan at 10:48 a.m. local time, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. South Korea is said to have stepped up its surveillance of North Korea while maintaining military readiness and close coordination with the United States.

It was North Korea’s first ballistic missile launch in eight days and the latest in a series of tests in recent months.

North Korea has previously said some of the tests were simulations of nuclear attacks on South Korean and US targets. Many experts say that North Korea would eventually like to improve its nuclear capabilities in order to extract greater concessions from its rivals.

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

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.

At the summit, President Biden reaffirmed his commitment to defend South Korea and Japan with a full range of capabilities, including nuclear weapons.

Choe said that the more the US and its allies “intensify provocative and bluffing military activities … the more fierce [North Korea’s] there will be a military counter-action.”

“The U.S. will be aware that it is taking a gamble, which it will surely regret.”

North Korea has consistently maintained that its recent weapons tests are a legitimate military response to what it calls military exercises between US and South Korean forces, which it sees as a precursor to an invasion. Washington and Seoul have said their drills are defensive in nature.

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.

There were concerns that North Korea could carry out its first nuclear test in five years as the next step in strengthening its military capability against the United States and its allies. US and South Korean officials say North Korea has completed preparations to conduct a nuclear test explosion at a remote test facility.

Some experts say the test, if carried out, would be used to develop nuclear warheads that would be mounted on short-range missiles capable of hitting key targets in South Korea, including US military bases. They say North Korea will eventually seek to use its enhanced arsenal as leverage to pressure the United States into making concessions in future negotiations.