DPRK launches ballistic missile ahead of US - S. Korea military drills
The launch comes in light of the US and South Korea joint military drills dubbed the 'Freedom Shield' exercises.
Says ahead of the US-South Korean joint military drills scheduled to take place in the Korean peninsula, Seoul's military reported on Thursday that the DPRK had fired a short-range ballistic missile.
According to Seoul's Joint Chiefs of Staff, South Korea's army "detected the launch of one short-range ballistic missile from the North's western port city of Nampo at 6:20 pm (0920 GMT)."
"Our military maintains a full readiness posture while closely cooperating with the US as we have strengthened surveillance and vigilance," he added.
The USINDOPACOM likewise stated the DPRK missile launch earlier today, stating the following:
"We are aware of the ballistic missile launch and are consulting closely with our allies and partners. While we have assessed that this event does not pose an immediate threat to US personnel or territory, or to our allies, the missile launch highlights the destabilizing impact of the DPRK’s unlawful WMD and ballistic missile programs. The US commitments to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remain ironclad."
This comes in light of new lows in relations between the North and South, which have been exacerbated by Seoul's joint military drills held with the US and Japan.
It also comes in light of a recent announcement issued by the US and South Korea that reveals the two plan to carry out joint military drills this month, dubbed the 'Freedom Shield' exercises, to strengthen allies' "defense" capabilities.
The drills are scheduled to take place annually from March 13 to March 23. No breaks are scheduled to be held in between.
This will also mark the longest-ever version of a joint computer simulation command post-exercise.
The drills will proceed with the 'Warrior Shield" drills, which are intended to reinforce training programs and enhance their "realism."
South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported on March 4th that the DPRK renewed its pledge to boost its nuclear arsenal in a bid to restore regional security after several months of provocations initiated by the US and South Korea's side.
The DPRK's foreign ministry said in a statement that the US was responsible for spearheading the collapse of the international arms control systems.
"Nuclear deterrence ensures a balance of power in the region and a strong physical security to prevent the outbreak of a new war," as per the statement issued by the DPRK.
The statement added that the buildup of unilateral arms between the US and its allies has worsened the risk of a potential escalation in the Korean Peninsula.
The DPRK called on the UN on March 5th to "strongly urge the US and South Korea to immediately halt their provocative remarks, and joint military exercises," and reiterated that its nuclear arsenal ensures that the balance of power is safeguarded in the region.