- Launched multiple missiles into the sea, S. Korea’s military said
- One landed south of the disputed inter-Korean maritime border
- S. Korea president promises N. Korea will ‘pay the price’
- N.Korea calls joint military drills ‘provocative’
SEOUL, Nov 2 (Reuters) – North Korea fired at least 17 missiles into the sea on Wednesday, including one that landed less than 60 km (40 miles) off South Korea’s coast, which South President Yoon Suk described as -yeol as “territorial encroachment”.
This was the first time a ballistic missile had landed near Southern waters since the peninsula was divided in 1945, and the largest number of missiles fired by the North in one day. South Korea issued rare air raid warnings and launched its own missiles in response.
The missile landed outside South Korea’s territorial waters, but south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a disputed inter-Korean maritime border.
South Korean warplanes fired three air-to-surface missiles into the sea to the north across the NLL in response, the South’s military said. An official said the weapons used included the CCB-84H/K SLAM-ER, a US-made “standoff” precision attack weapon that can fly up to 270 km (170 miles) with a 360 kg (800-) pound) warhead.
The South launches came after Yoon’s office promised a “quick and firm response”.
“North Korea’s provocation today was an effective act of territorial trespass by a missile intruding into the NLL for the first time since (the two Koreas’ division),” a senior official in Yoon’s office told reporters.
Asked if the missile was flying towards Southern territory and should have been intercepted, the official said: “Strictly speaking, it did not land in our territory but in the Exclusive Economic Zone under our jurisdiction, so it was not subject to interception. “
That missile was one of three short-range ballistic missiles fired from North Korea’s coastal area of Wonsan into the sea, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. The JCS later said as many as 14 other missiles of various types had been fired from North Korea’s east and west coasts.
The JCS said at least one of the missiles landed 26 km south of the NLL, 57 km from the South Korean city of Sokcho, on the east coast, and 167 km from Ulleung island, where it received air raid warnings. sound them.
“We heard the siren around 8:55 am and all of us in the building went down to the evacuation area in the basement,” an Ulleung county official told Reuters. “We stayed there until we came upstairs at about 9:15 after hearing that the projectile had fallen into the high seas.”
A resident of the southern part of the island said they have not received any warnings.
The North also fired more than 100 artillery rounds from its eastern coast into a military buffer set up in a military agreement with the South, South Korea’s military said.
The firing violates the 2018 agreement, the JCS said.
North and South Korea are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty.
Nuclear-armed North Korea has tested a record number of missiles this year, and officials in Seoul and Washington say the North has completed technical preparations to conduct a nuclear weapons test for the first time since 2017.
The launches came just hours after Pyongyang demanded that the United States and South Korea stop large-scale military exercises, saying “military rashness and provocation can no longer be tolerated”.
Although Yoon declared a national week of mourning after more than 150 people were killed in a weekend mob surge in Seoul, the United States and South Korea began one of their largest joint military air drills on Monday. Called Vigilant Storm, the exercises involve hundreds of warplanes from both sides carrying out mock attacks 24 hours a day. read more
BIG MILITARY DRILLS
North Korea, which for years has pursued missile and nuclear programs in defiance of United Nations sanctions, had said a flurry of recent launches were in response to related drills.
Pak Jong Chon, secretary of the Central Committee of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a statement on Wednesday that the number of warplanes involved in Vigilant Storm proved that the exercise was “aggressive and provocative” and specifically targeted at North Korea. He said its name even mimicked Operation Desert Storm led by the US against Iraq in the 1990s.
“The hostile forces’ abnormal movements for military confrontation have created a serious situation on the Korean peninsula,” Pak said in a statement carried by state news agency KCNA.
On Tuesday in Washington, US State Department spokesman Ned Price said the drills were “entirely defensive in nature” and that the US had made clear to North Korea that it had no hostile intent.
Price added that the US and its allies had also made it clear that there would be “profound costs and profound consequences” if North Korea resumed nuclear testing, which would be a “dangerous, destabilizing step”. He did not elaborate.
In a phone call with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin called North Korea’s missile launch “unprecedented” and a “serious act of military provocation”. The two officials condemned the launch and agreed to cooperate against North Korean threats, Park’s office said in a statement.
LAUNCHING MISSILE IN ‘NEW WAYS’
South Korea’s Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport said that due to the launches, some air routes over the sea between North Korea and Japan would be closed until Thursday.
“Our military can never tolerate this kind of provocative action by North Korea, and will respond strictly and firmly under close South Korea-US cooperation,” JCS said in a news release.
Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said the government believed at least two ballistic missiles had been launched from North Korea, one flying east and another southeast.
The first flew 150 km to a maximum altitude of about 150 km, while the second covered a range of 200 km to a maximum altitude of 100 km, he told reporters in Tokyo on Wednesday morning.
North Korea’s actions threaten the peace and stability of Japan, the wider region, as well as the wider international community, Hamada said.
Reporting by Soo-hyang Choi, Choonsik Yoo and Josh Smith; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington and Sakura Murakami in Tokyo; Editing by Muralikumar Anantharaman, Gerry Doyle, Raju Gopalakrishnan and Nick Macfie
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