02/20/2023 03:52 (act. 02/20/2023 03:52)
North Korea responds to US-South Korea military exercise with missile tests ©APA/South Korean Ministry of Defense
Japan wants to request an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council after North Korea repeatedly fired missiles. Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters as much on Monday. The neighboring country had just fired some short-range missiles into the open sea after testing an ICBM on Saturday – despite the ban under UN resolutions.
On Monday morning, the communist-ruled country fired two short-range missiles from the South Pyongan region towards the Sea of Japan (Korean: East Sea). According to the Japanese Ministry of Defense, they sank into the sea outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.
According to reports by the South Korean military and Japanese coast guard, North Korean media also confirmed that two missiles were fired from a multiple rocket launcher. “The 600mm multi-rocket launcher used in the launch is a tactical nuclear weapon,” state news agency KCNA reported. He was able to “paralyze” an enemy airfield.
South Korea and Japan condemned the rocket launches. South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced sanctions against four people and five companies linked to the government’s weapons programs in Pyongyang, including a South African and two Singaporean shipping companies. US Indo-Pacific Command said the recent launch did not pose an immediate threat, but underscored the “destabilizing effect” of the isolated country’s illegal weapons programs.
North Korea fired a long-range missile (ICBM) on Saturday after the Pyongyang government threatened a drastic response to annual US-South Korean joint military exercises. These missiles are considered the most important carriers of nuclear weapons. Tests with ICBMs and other ballistic missiles are banned in North Korea by United Nations ruling.
North Korean leader Kim Yo Jong’s sister warned of an increased US presence on the Korean Peninsula after the United States held bilateral air exercises with South Korea and Japan on Sunday in response to the ICBM launch. “We are carefully assessing the impact this would have on the security of our state,” Kim Yo Jong said in an official statement. “The frequency with which the Pacific is used as a firing range depends on the behavior of US forces.”
The United Nations (UN) urged North Korea to “immediately refrain from further provocation” and resume dialogue on denuclearization. Tensions will continue to rise in the coming weeks, analysts say, as South Korea and the United States hold simulated nuclear exercises to enhance American nuclear weapons operations this week and annual “Shield of Freedom” spring training in March.
Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen significantly again in the past year. Communist-ruled North Korea, subject to international sanctions over its nuclear weapons program, has increased the scope and pace of its missile tests. South Korea and the US resumed their maneuvers in full.