DPRK fires two short-range missiles in reply to US-South Korea drills
The DPRK claims that the multi-rocket launch exercise is capable of a "tactical nuclear attack."
State-media Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the DPRK fired two short-range missiles on Monday after it had launched its powerful Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) on Saturday.
The ICBM, which was launched on Saturday, landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, and the launch prompted the US and South Korea to launch joint air drills involving B-1B bombers on Sunday.
DPRK testing the Hwasong-15 long range ballistic missile, theoretically capable of striking the US mainland. It flew 989 km in 4015 seconds, reaching an altitude of 5768 meters and was in the air for 66 minutes. It landed off of the coast of Japan— ☭ (@COMMUNIST333) February 20, 2023
Monday's drills were therefore conducted in response to these exercises, as well as previous provoking drills that have aggravated regional security in the peninsulam, KCNA reports.
The DPRK claims that the multi-rocket launch exercise is capable of a "tactical nuclear attack" with the capacity to take out entire enemy air bases.
"Through today's firing drill with the involvement of super-large multiple rocket launchers, the tactical nuclear attack means, the KPA demonstrated its full readiness to deter and will to counter" the joint air drills, KCNA said.
South Korea's military said it detected the launch from the Sukchon area in South Pyongan Province between 0700-0711 (2200-2211 GMT Sunday), and that the missiles flew some 390 kilometers and 340 km, respectively, before they landed in the East Sea (Sea of Japan), Yonhap News reported.
Read more: South Korean defense paper dubs DPRK 'enemy', again
The South's military further described the launch as "a serious provocation that undermines peace and stability on the Korean peninsula", and called on the DPRK to cease its missile tests "immediately".
The deputy head of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, Kim Yo Jong, said in an english-written statement that Pyonyang has been very attentive to the kinds of strategic assets deployed by the US and South Korea in the region.
"We are carefully examining the influence it would exert on the security of our state," she said in a statement reported by KCNA. "The frequency of using the Pacific as our firing range depends upon the US forces’ action character."
ICBM 'surprise' drill
The DPRK stated that its ICBM launch drill was a "surprise" missile test intended to prove the country's "fatal nuclear counterattack" capabilities.
The missile reportedly flew for an hour and six minutes before it landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone.
The following day, South Korea and the US deployed strategic bombers and stealth fighter jets as part of a joint air military drill.
The DPRK's test launch was met with condemnation by UN Secretary-General Antonio Gutteres who called on the DPRK to "immediatly desist from taking any further provocative actions."
UN Secretary General "strongly condemns" North Korea's ICBM launch: pic.twitter.com/8kOAIQpJAr— William Gallo (@GalloVOA) February 20, 2023
All soldiers who took part in Saturday's ICBM drill were reportedy given an "excellent mark."
But South Korean analysts ruled that the nine-hour timespan between the order and the launch was not rapid enough to be deemed a "surprise" drill.
Kim Yo Jong dismissed the remarks and said that these observations are intended to "undervalue the preparedness of the DPRK missile forces."
According to a South Korean analyst, "Kim's strong and angry reaction to outside assessment of its ICBM launch shows the North really cares about delivering a message that it is capable of hitting the US mainland," noting that the use of shorter-range missiles indicated that the DPRK was "virtually targeting US bases and South Korean command centre in the area".
A week ago, the DPRK warned of an "unprecedentedly" strong response to joint military exercises by the US and South Korea, and warned the UN Security Council that the dismissal of those threats will result in retaliation.
Despite heavy international sanctions over its weapons programs, Pyongyang has been able to build up an arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). According to the South Korean Defense Ministry, DPRK's test launches are part of the country's efforts to boost space reconnaissance capabilities.
The DPRK has a long history of resentment toward the US over war crimes that have claimed about three million North Korean lives. Due to this, many in the DPRK regard the US as a genocidal state.
The country has further suffered from unjustifiable sanctions on its overall economic development due to its defensive measures to safeguard national security.
Since the 1950-53 Korean War concluded with an armistice rather than a peace treaty, the DPRK and South Korea have remained officially at war.
On February 16, South Korea referred to its neighbor DPRK as its "enemy" in a defense paper for the first time in six years, signaling a further hardening of Seoul's stance toward Pyongyang.
As South Korea weaves closer ties with the US, the DPRK's leader declared last year that his country is an "irreversible" nuclear power, conducting weapon tests nearly every month, including the launch of its most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).
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