Home » North Korea keeps up its missile barrage with launch of ICBM

North Korea keeps up its missile barrage with launch of ICBM

by Mahmmod Shar

North Korea fired at least six missiles into the sea on Thursday, including an intercontinental ballistic missile that triggered evacuation warnings and halted trains in northern Japan, adding to a recent barrage of weapons tests


SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea fired at least six missiles into the sea on Thursday, including an intercontinental ballistic missile that triggered evacuation warnings and halted trains in northern Japan, adding to a recent barrage of weapons tests that has escalated tensions in the region.

The ICBM test was followed by launches of two short-range ballistic missiles in the morning, drawing swift condemnation by North Korea’s neighbors and the United States, which reacted by extending ongoing joint air force exercises with South Korea.

The South Korean and Japanese militaries said North Korea later fired three more short-range missiles into waters off its eastern coast. Those launches came an hour after a senior North Korean military official issued a statement threatening retaliation over the extension of the U.S.-South Korea drills. Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the missiles traveled as far as 500 kilometers (300 miles).

The South’s military said the North followed those launches by firing 80 artillery rounds into the eastern parts of maritime buffer zones the rivals created off their eastern and western coasts in 2018 as part of agreements to reduce tensions.

On Wednesday, North Korea fired more than 20 missiles, the most it has launched in a single day.

After already setting an annual record with dozens of ballistic launches in 2022, North Korea has further dialed up its testing activity since late September, including what it described as simulated nuclear attacks on South Korean and U.S. targets. It has said its tests are meant as a warning against the United States’ military drills with allies South Korea and Japan which it portrays as rehearsals for a potential invasion.

Experts say North Korea is escalating brinkmanship aimed at forcing the United States to accept it as a nuclear power and at negotiating economic and security concessions from a position of strength.

The Biden administration said in response to the launches that it is willing to take “all necessary measures” to ensure the safety of the American homeland as well as South Korea and Japan. It also warned of unspecified “additional costs and consequences” if North Korea ups the ante by detonating a nuclear test device for the first time since September 2017. U.S. and South Korean officials have been monitoring possible test preparations in North Korea for months.

The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency open meeting for Friday afternoon to discuss North Korea’s missile launches at the request of the U.S., Britain, France, Albania, Ireland and Albania.

On Thursday morning, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected that North Korea had fired an ICBM from an area near its capital, Pyongyang, and then two short-range missiles an hour later from the nearby city of Kaechon that flew toward its eastern waters.

The longer-range missile appeared to be fired at a high angle, possibly to avoid entering the territory of neighbors, reaching a maximum altitude of 1,920 kilometers (1,193 miles) and traveling around 760 kilometers (472 miles), according to South Korea’s military. It wasn’t immediately clear whether the launch was successful.

Japan said it lost track of one of the North Korean weapons, apparently the ICBM, after it “disappeared” in skies above waters between the Korean Peninsula and Japan.

Choi Yong Soo, a South Korean navy captain who handles public affairs for Seoul’s Defense Ministry, didn’t answer directly when asked about the possibility of the ICBM launch being a failure, saying that it is still being analyzed.

Citing anonymous military sources, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported that the missile possibly failed to maintain a normal flight following a stage separation.

The Japanese government initially feared North Korea fired a missile over its northern territory but later adjusted its assessment. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said the alerts were based on a trajectory analysis that indicated a flyover.

The office of Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida broadcast alerts through television, radio, mobile phones and public loudspeakers to residents of the northern prefectures of Miyagi, Yamagata and Niigata, instructing them to go inside strong buildings or underground.

There have been no reports of damage or injuries in the regions where the alerts were issued. Bullet train services in some areas were temporarily suspended following the missile alert before resuming shortly.

North Korean missile activity is a particular concern in Niigata, which is home to seven reactors at the Kashiwazaki-Kariwa nuclear power plant. Those reactors are currently offline and Japanese authorities say no abnormalities have been detected.

The sound of sirens blasting from public speaker systems caused fishermen on Sado island, just off Niigata’s northern coast, to rush back from the water. One fisherman admitted to NTV television that he is afraid to go out to sea these days.

We must exercise extreme caution, he declared.

In October, North Korea last fired a missile over Japan in what it claimed was a test of a new intermediate-range ballistic missile that, according to experts, may be able to reach Guam, a significant American military base in the Pacific.

Kishida criticized North Korea’s most recent launches and stated that authorities were investigating the specifics of the weapons. Military drills with the US will continue to be expanded, according to Yoon Suk Yeol’s office in South Korea. Further launches, according to the report, would only widen the North’s economic isolation on the global stage.

In a statement, U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said that the country strongly condemned North Korea’s ICBM test and that President Joe Biden and his national security team are closely working with allies and partners to assess the situation.

According to Watson, “this launch, along with the launch of numerous other ballistic missiles this week, is a flagrant violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and needlessly escalates tensions and poses a risk of destabilizing the security situation in the region.”

She declared that America will take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of Japan, South Korea, and other allies.

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One of the more than 20 missiles North Korea fired on Wednesday flew in the direction of a populated South Korean island and landed close to the tense sea border between the two countries, setting off air raid sirens and compelling Ulleung island residents to leave. South Korea launched its own missiles in the same border region as a prompt response.

Those launches came after North Korea expressed its displeasure with the ongoing military exercises between South Korea and the United States by threatening to use nuclear weapons to make the United States and South Korea “pay the most horrible price in history.”

The South Korean and American air forces decided to extend their ongoing joint aerial drills following North Korea’s earlier launches on Thursday in response to the country’s increased weapons testing and growing nuclear threat.

More than 200 warplanes, including the cutting-edge F-35 fighter jets, have been deployed by U.S. and South Korean forces for the “Vigilant Storm” exercises, which were originally scheduled to last through Friday. The duration of the training has not yet been announced by South Korea’s air force, who noted that the allies are still discussing the specifics.

Senior North Korean military official Pak Jong Chon accused the allies of escalating tensions to a “uncontrollable state” by continuing their “provocative military acts” in a statement released through state media.

He predicted that South Korea and the United States would realize what a terrible and irreparable mistake they had made.

According to experts, North Korea’s increased testing demonstrates an effort to take advantage of a rift in the U.N. Security Council that has grown over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in order to advance weapons development and put more pressure on the United States and its regional allies.

An escalating nuclear doctrine that permits preemptive nuclear attacks over a variety of vaguely defined crisis situations has been used by North Korea to punctuate its nuclear tests.

A nuclear test by North Korea, which would be its seventh overall, could, according to experts, move the nation one step closer to its objective of developing a fully-fledged arsenal capable of endangering nearby U.S. allies and the American mainland.

“Should it go forward with a seventh nuclear test there would be additional costs and consequences,” State Department spokesperson Ned Price said Tuesday, noting that the test would be a “dangerous, reckless, destabilizing act.”

Nuclear disarmament talks between Washington and Pyongyang have been stalled since 2019 because of disagreements over an easing of crippling U.S.-led sanctions against North Korea in exchange for denuclearization steps.


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