Tensions rise sharply with missile salvo from Pyongyang

Tensions rise sharply with missile salvo from Pyongyang

What to remember

  • North Korea fired at least 23 missiles, one of which landed near South Korean territorial waters.
  • Seoul claimed to have returned fire and launched three air-to-surface missiles.
  • France and the United States have condemned these missile launches. The Kremlin, for its part, called on all parties to “calm”.
  • European Council President Charles Michel said he was “outraged” by North Korea’s “aggressive and irresponsible” behavior.

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11:57 p.m.: North Korea fires a new “unidentified ballistic missile,” according to Seoul

North Korea has launched a new, unidentified “ballistic missile,” the South Korean army said Thursday, a day after an unprecedented volley of projectile launches by Pyongyang.

“North Korea has launched an unidentified ballistic missile at the East Sea,” also known as the Sea of ​​Japan, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

6:57 p.m .: France condemns “unacceptable provocations”

In a statement by its foreign ministry, France condemned “with the greatest severity the numerous rocket launches, including several ballistic” ones by North Korea, and denounced “new unacceptable provocations”.
“France is particularly concerned by the fact that one of these ballistic missiles crashed on the South Korean side of the sea line between North Korea and South Korea, the so-called ‘northern border,'” the ministry said.

France again calls on North Korea to comply with the relevant Security Council resolutions without delay. It emphasizes its determination to work with its partners towards the goal of complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization of North Korea and to promote dialogue between all parties.

3:31 p.m .: Washington accuses North Korea of ​​providing covert military aid to Russia

North Korea “is providing covert assistance to Russia’s war against Ukraine,” accused John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

He pointed to a “significant amount” of artillery munitions that North Korea is shipping “to make it look like they’re being sent to the Middle East or Africa,” and clarified that Washington is currently trying to figure out if that military aid actually received by the Russians.

“We have to stop believing that these are just provocations”

Is this the beginning of a deadly escalation? North Korea fired at least 23 missiles on Wednesday. One of them fell very close to South Korean territorial waters, which led to a sharp increase in tensions with its southern neighbor, which in retaliation fired three missiles at sea. Specialist Antoine Bondaz decodes the situation for us in this article.

3:17 p.m .: Washington “condemns” North Korea’s missile launches

The United States “condemns” North Korea’s latest round of missiles, said John Kirby, spokesman for the White House National Security Council.

He particularly criticized Pyongyang’s “dangerous decision” to launch a missile near South Korean territorial waters.

2:11 p.m .: Charles Michel “outraged” by North Korea’s “aggressive and irresponsible” behavior

European Council President Charles Michel said he was “outraged” by North Korea’s launch of at least 23 missiles, one of which fell near South Korean territorial waters, and condemned Pyongyang’s “aggressive” and “irresponsible” behavior.

“On behalf of the EU, I express our solidarity with (South) Korea and other countries in the region,” he added in a tweet.

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11:25 a.m.: North Korea rocket fire: Kremlin calls on all parties to “calm”.

The Kremlin on Wednesday called for “calm” from all parties after North Korea fired multiple surface-to-air missiles, sparking concern in South Korea.

“All parties to this conflict must avoid any steps that could lead to further tensions,” said Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, stressing that “the situation on the peninsula is already tense enough.” “We call on everyone to remain calm,” he said.

11:03 a.m .: North Korea fires “six air-to-surface missiles”, according to Seoul

Pyongyang fired six “surface-to-air missiles,” the South Korean army said on Wednesday, which earlier announced Pyongyang would launch at least 17 projectiles in the morning.

“Six additional eastbound and westbound air-to-surface missile launches were detected,” the staff said.

9:28 am: North Korea fires 4 more ballistic missiles

North Korea launched four more ballistic missiles on Wednesday morning, the South Korean military said, having earlier spotted the launch of more than 10 North Korean missiles, one of which fell near South Korean waters.

Gunfire was spotted earlier this morning from two locations in North Pyongan province, Seoul says, qualifying them as “short-range ballistic missiles” after analysis.

8:33 am: 100 artillery fire on a maritime “buffer zone”

North Korea fired 100 artillery shells at a maritime “buffer zone” hours after Pyongyang fired several missiles, one of which fell near South Korean waters, according to the South Korean military. “North Korea fired about 100 artillery shells from Kosong,” a town in Kangwon (south), in the “buffer zone” north of the demarcation line, which is the de facto maritime border between the two countries, Seoul’s joint staff said.

the context

Seoul and Washington are currently staging the largest joint aerial exercise in their history, dubbed “Vigilant Storm,” involving hundreds of fighter jets from both armies.

Pak Jong Chon, Marshal and secretary of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, described the exercises as aggressive and provocative, according to a report by the official North Korean press on Wednesday. According to him, the name of these maneuvers is reminiscent of Operation Desert Storm, the name given to the US-led coalition’s military operations against Iraq in 1990 and 1991 following the invasion of Kuwait.

The nuclear threat

“If the United States and South Korea try to use their armed forces against the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) without fear, the DPRK’s armed forces’ special assets will fulfill their strategic mission without delay,” Mr. Pak said state agency KCNA. “The United States and South Korea will face a terrible trade and pay the most terrible price in history,” Pak added.

North Korea’s missile launch on Wednesday comes after a series of launches including what the North is calling tactical nuclear exercises. Washington and Seoul have repeatedly warned that Pyongyang could conduct a new nuclear test that would be the seventh in its history.

“As long as I can remember, North Korea has never made such a provocation when South Korea and the United States conducted joint maneuvers,” said Park Won-gon, a professor at Ewha University. “Pyongyang appears to have completed its strongest (measure) deterrence. It’s a serious threat. The North also seems confident in its nuclear capabilities.”

7:49 a.m.: Japan confirms rocket launch

Japan has also confirmed the launch of North Korean missiles, with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida telling reporters he wants to “hold a national security meeting as soon as possible”.

7:32 a.m. Seoul claims fired three air-to-surface missiles and retaliated

Shortly thereafter, the Seoul military reported that it fired three air-to-surface missiles near the spot on the sea border where the North Korean missile fell. South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff initially claimed to have identified a launch by three short-range ballistic missiles. However, he later announced that North Korea had launched “more than 10 missiles of different types towards the east and west”.

7:14 a.m.: LSouth Korean army says rocket launch is ‘unacceptable’

The missile that fell closest to South Korea landed in waters just 57 kilometers (35 miles) east of mainland South Korea, the Seoul military said, calling the Pyongyang launch “very rare and intolerable”. “We declare that our army will respond resolutely,” she added.

6:51 a.m .: President Yoon castigates “provocations” and “territorial invasion”

President Yoon has called a National Security Council meeting over the launch, which analysts say is one of the “most aggressive and menacing” in several years. The South Korean President also ordered “rapid and strict measures to ensure that North Korea’s provocations pay a heavy price”. According to him, this shooting “actually constitutes a territorial invasion.”

6:33 a.m.: North Korea has fired more than 10 missiles

A short-range ballistic missile attributed to North Korea first crossed the northern border line, which is the de facto maritime border between the two countries, triggering a rare airstrike alert urging residents of South Korea’s Ulleungdo island to take refuge in underground shelters.

Seoul’s military says it is “the first time since the partition of the peninsula” after fighting in the Korean War in 1953 that a North Korean missile has landed so close to southern sovereign waters. The army then assured South Korea had fired at least 10 rockets of different types.