North Korea fires missile after threatening US, Seoul response

North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile shortly after threatening a “fierce” response to the United States’ military rapprochement with South Korea, the South Korean military said.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff identified the projectile as a short-range ballistic missile fired from the Wonsan region of Kangwon province.

The missile traveled 240 km at an altitude of 47 km, with a speed of Mach 4.

Japan also confirmed the missile’s firing, which it and Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s office deemed “a threat to the peace and security of our country and the regional and international communities”.

This week, US President Joe Biden raised the issue of North Korean missile tests with Chinese President Xi Jinping during the G20 summit in Bali.

Biden urged Xi to use his influence to rein in North Korea after a series of missile launches that stoked fears that Pyongyang was close to carrying out its seventh nuclear test.

Biden also spoke with South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida about ways to address the threat of North Korea’s “illegal weapons of mass destruction and ballistics programs.” , according to the White House.

“Unpredictable phase”

North Korean Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui criticized the talks on Thursday, saying they “take the situation on the Korean peninsula to an unpredictable stage”.

The more the United States tries to strengthen its security alliance with Tokyo and Seoul, “the fiercer will be the counter-response” from North Korea, Choe added.

Analysts point out that Thursday’s shot was “scheduled” to coincide with the minister’s statement.

The North “fired the missile a few hours after the release of the statement, in an attempt to justify the launch as a message to the United States and Japan,” Cheong Seong-chang, a researcher at the Sejong Institute, told AFP.

A few weeks ago, North Korea carried out a series of launches, including an intercontinental ballistic missile that Seoul says failed.

It also fired a short-range ballistic missile that reportedly crossed the maritime border between the two countries and landed near South Korean territorial waters.

South Korean President Yoon said at the time that this was “a de facto territorial invasion”.

The two launches were part of a wave of fire on November 2, when Pyongyang launched 23 missiles, more than in all of 2017, the year of “fire and fury”, when North Korean leader Kim Jong Un traded abuse on Twitter. with then US President Donald Trump.

Analysts point out that North Korea is seizing the opportunity to test banned missiles because it hopes it will avoid further UN sanctions over Russia’s stalemate in organizing a war in Ukraine.

China, Pyongyang’s main diplomatic ally, joined Russia in May to veto a US attempt to tighten sanctions against North Korea at the UN Security Council.

Washington responded to the North Korean tests with expanded military exercises with Seoul, including the deployment of a strategic bomber.

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