North Korea fires ballistic missiles after condemning U.N. meeting, U.S. drills

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Seoul/Tokyo — North Korea fired two short-range ballistic missiles into the sea toward Japan on Thursday, following the return of a US aircraft carrier to the region and a UN Security Council meeting in response to recent releases from the North.

The missile launch was the sixth in 12 days and the first since North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) over Japan on Tuesday, prompting joint missile exercises by South Korea and the U.S. Units during which a weapon crashed and burned.

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The launch was reported by the joint chiefs of staff of South Korea and the Japanese government.

“This is the sixth time in a short period, just counting the ones at the end of September,” Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters. “This absolutely cannot be tolerated.”

The launch came about an hour after North Korea condemned the United States for speaking to the United Nations Security Council about the “just countermeasures of the Korean People’s Army over joint exercises South Korea and United States,” suggesting that its missile tests are a reaction to allied military movements.

In a statement released by the reclusive nation’s foreign ministry, North Korea also condemned Washington for repositioning a US aircraft carrier off the Korean Peninsula, saying it posed a serious threat to the stability of the situation .

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The USS Ronald Reagan and its accompanying warship strike group were abruptly redeployed in response to North Korea’s IRBM launch over Japan. The United States condemned Thursday’s launch, a State Department spokesman said, calling it a violation of United Nations Security Council resolutions and a threat to regional neighbors and the international community.

The spokesman, however, added that Washington is committed to a diplomatic approach and has asked the North to start a dialogue.

The United States accused China and Russia on Wednesday of enabling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un by blocking attempts to strengthen UN Security Council sanctions on Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

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South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, who is due to speak with Kishida by phone on Thursday, told reporters that his country will ensure its security through its alliance with the United States and cooperation with Japan.

It said the US carrier had entered South Korean waters on Wednesday afternoon.

Yoon’s national security council warned that North Korea would face a strong international response over the tests.

Tokyo lodged a “vehement protest” with North Korea over Thursday’s launches through delegations in Beijing, Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada said.

The first missile likely flew Thursday at an altitude of about 100 km and a range of 350 km, while the second had an estimated altitude of 50 kilometers (31.07 miles) and covered 800 km, likely flying on a trajectory irregular, he said. .

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Many of North Korea’s newest short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs) are designed to fly in a lower, depressed trajectory and possibly maneuver, complicating efforts to detect and intercept them.

“North Korea has relentlessly and unilaterally stepped up its provocation, especially since the beginning of this year,” Hamada told reporters.

South Korea’s JCS said the missiles were launched from near the North Korean capital of Pyongyang.

North Korea has launched about 40 missiles this year. Its record-setting schedule began in January with the launch of a new “hypersonic missile” and went on to include long-range cruise missiles; SRBMs fired from railcars, airports and a submarine; its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has been launched since 2017; and the IRBM fired over Japan.

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It also appears poised to conduct a nuclear test for the first time since 2017, according to officials in Seoul and Washington.

The United States and its allies have stepped up military shows of force in the region, but there appears to be little chance of new international sanctions from the UN Security Council, which has already passed resolutions banning the development of missiles and nuclear power of the North.

China’s deputy ambassador to the UN, Geng Shuang, said the Security Council should play a constructive role “rather than relying only on strong rhetoric or pressure”.

In May, China and Russia vetoed a US-led push to impose more UN sanctions on North Korea over its renewed ballistic missile launches, publicly dividing the Security Council for the first time since it began punishing Pyongyang with sanctions in 2006. (Reporting by Joori Roh in Seoul and Chang-Ran Kim in Tokyo; Additional reporting by David Brunnstrom in Washington; Writing by Josh Smith; Editing by Richard Pullin, Josie Kao and Gerry Doyle)



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