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North Korea fires short-range ballistic missile

North Korea fired a short-range ballistic missile on Sunday, the Seoul military said, the fourth show of force in a week as South Korea and the United States hold major military drills.

Seoul and Washington have stepped up defense cooperation in the face of growing military and nuclear threats from the North, which has conducted a series of increasingly provocative tests of banned weapons in recent months.

South Korea and the United States are in the midst of 11 days of joint exercises known as Freedom Shield, the largest in five years.

North Korea views all of these drills as invasion rehearsals and has repeatedly warned it will take “crushing” action in response.

“Our military detected a short-range ballistic missile fired from the Tongchang-ri area in North Pyongan Province at 11:05 a.m. (0205 GMT) heading towards the East Sea,” the general staff said. South Korean Joint Force (JCS). the body of water also known as the Sea of ​​Japan.

The missile traveled 800 kilometers (500 miles) and was being analyzed by US and South Korean intelligence, the JCS said in a statement, calling the launch a “serious provocation” that violated US sanctions. ‘UN.

“Our military will maintain a strong readiness posture based on its ability to respond massively to any provocation from North Korea, while conducting intensive and thorough drills and combined drills,” he said.

Tokyo also confirmed the launch, with Deputy Defense Minister Toshiro Ino telling reporters that Japan had “filed a vehement protest and strongly condemned (North Korea) through our embassy in Beijing”.

The U.S. military’s Indo-Pacific Command condemned the launch, saying it highlighted the “destabilizing impact” of North Korea’s banned weapons programs.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry said hours after the launch it had held joint aerial exercises with the United States with at least one long-range American B-1B bomber.

The drills also involved South Korean F-35A stealth fighters and US F-16 fighters and took place as part of Exercise Freedom Shield. The exercise “significantly improved the interoperability of allies…and their wartime capabilities,” the ministry said in a statement.

– ‘War maniacs’ –
The latest launch came a day after North Korean state media reported that more than 800,000 young North Koreans had volunteered to join the military to fight “US imperialists”.

The young volunteers were determined to “ruthlessly eliminate the war maniacs” and joined the army to “defend the country”, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said.

On Thursday, Pyongyang tested its largest and most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-17, its second ICBM test this year. He described the launch as a response to “frenzied” exercises between the United States and South Korea.

The UN Security Council is expected to hold an emergency meeting Monday on the ICBM launch at the request of the United States and Japan, the Yonhap news agency reported.

In a statement carried by KCNA on Sunday, the North Korean Foreign Ministry “strongly” warned the United States and other countries to include “legitimate DPRK self-defense countermeasures in UNSC discussions. “. DPRK is an acronym for the official name of North Korea.

Analysts previously said North Korea would likely use the drills as an excuse to conduct more missile launches and possibly even a nuclear test.

The ICBM launch follows two short-range ballistic missiles on Tuesday and two strategic cruise missiles fired from a submarine last Sunday.

Pyongyang’s recent wave of aggression has prompted Seoul and Tokyo to repair barriers over historic differences and try to boost security cooperation.

Just hours after the ICBM was fired on Thursday, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol arrived in Japan for the first large-scale leaders’ summit between the countries in 12 years.

Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korea Studies in Seoul, said the recent missile launches had several purposes, including protesting the joint exercises as well as testing the trilateral responses of South Korea, the states United States and Japan.

North Korea declared itself an “irreversible” nuclear power last year and leader Kim Jong Un recently called for an “exponential” increase in the production of weapons, including tactical nuclear weapons.

Kim also this month ordered the North Korean military to step up exercises to prepare for a “real war”.

(This story has not been edited by NDTV staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


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