- The missile launch comes hours after North Korea warned it would respond to U.S. efforts to increase its security presence in the Asia-Pacific.
North Korea fired a ballistic missile into its eastern waters, according to officials in Seoul, hours after threatening a “fiercer military response” to U.S. efforts to increase its security presence in the region.
The missile flew about 240 kilometers (149 miles) and reached an altitude of 47 kilometers (29 miles), the JCS said, adding that shortly before the launch, the South Korean and U.S. militaries had organized a “pre-planned” missile defense exercise.
The South Korean military will continue to maintain a firm posture of readiness, he said.
Pyongyang has tested a record number of missiles this year, including a possible failed intercontinental ballistic missile, while Washington and Seoul have expanded the range and scale of their joint military exercises.
Some of the drills have involved Japan.
In a statement after the discussions, U.S. President Joe Biden, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida “strongly condemned” North Korea’s “unprecedented number of ballistic missile launches” and pledged to “forge even closer trilateral ties, in the realm of security and beyond.”
They also warned Pyongyang against conducting a seventh nuclear test, with Biden reiterating that the U.S. commitment to defend Seoul and Tokyo was “backed by the full range of capabilities, including nuclear.”
North Korea condemned the trilateral summit on Thursday, with Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui saying the three countries’ “war drills for aggression” would not stop Pyongyang, but would bring a “more serious, realistic and inevitable threat” to themselves.
“The more enthusiastic the United States is in the ‘reinforced offer of extended deterrence to its allies and the more it intensifies provocative and blustering military activities… the fiercer the DPRK’s military counteraction,” Choe said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.
It refers to its country by the initials of its official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“The United States will be very aware that it is betting, so it will certainly regret it,” he said.
Choe added that the North’s military activities are “legitimate and just countermeasures” to the U.S.-led exercises.
Analysts said the signals coming from Pyongyang were significant given last week’s regional summit and Chinese President Xi Jinping’s participation after years of self-imposed pandemic isolation.
China is the main ally and trading partner of the isolated North.
“Beijing may not be more cooperative immediately in dealing with North Korea, even after the Kim regime conducts another nuclear test,” Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Ewha University in Seoul, told Al Jazeera by email.
“But at some point, Chinese interests will prefer to exert pressure on Pyongyang rather than confront the United States, South Korea, and Japan more strategically united.”
Source: AL JAZEERA AND NEWS AGENCIES
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