Seoul, South Korea
South Korea’s military said on Wednesday that North Korea had launched the largest number of short-range missiles in a single day, further escalating tensions in the region as Seoul retaliated against Pyongyang’s latest weapons test.
North Korea has fired up to 23 different types of missiles in the east and west of the Korean Peninsula; South Korea’s Ministry of Defense announced that it fired an air-to-air missile at the east and west coasts of the Korean Peninsula. .
One of the missiles fired by Pyongyang was a short-range ballistic missile that landed close to South Korean territorial waters for the first time since the 1945 division, Seoul’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.
The JCS said the missile landed in international waters about 167 kilometers northwest of South Korea’s Uleung Island, 26 kilometers south of the Northern Limit Line (NLL), an inter-Korean maritime boundary that North Korea does not recognize.
Japan’s defense ministry said North Korea conducted another launch on Wednesday, including at least one more ballistic missile that fell into the sea outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone (EEZ).
Deputy Defense Minister Toshiro Ino told reporters that the short-range ballistic missile flew at an altitude of less than 50 km.
“North Korea has quickly escalated its anger, launching more than ten missiles today alone and reportedly firing more than 100 missiles after making a highly provocative statement over the Sea of Japan,” Eno said.
No damage to aircraft or ships has been confirmed yet.
North Korea has previously told reporters that it had fired this many missiles in a single day.In 2006 and 2009, the North fired several missiles throughout the day from 3 a.m. to 5 p.m., and from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. local time, respectively, without specifying the exact number of missiles. .
South Korea’s defense official said earlier that the missiles landed in the Yellow Sea to the west of the Gulf, known as the West Sea of Korea, and to the east in the Sea of Japan, also known as the East Sea.
Air attack warning Uleng Island, 120 kilometers east of the Gulf, was lifted at around 2pm on Wednesday. South Korean President Yun Suk-yeol said the North Korean test was an “effective territorial invasion”.
South Korea’s presidential office said at an emergency meeting of the National Security Council (NSC) that Yun “ordered a strong response to make North Korea’s provocations pay a clear price.”
In an immediate response, South Korea fired three air-to-surface missiles from F-15K and KF-16 fighter jets on Wednesday morning, JCS reported.
The JCS targeted the South Korean air force in international waters north of the NLL, about the same distance from where a North Korean missile had earlier landed south of the line.
“Our military’s precision strike demonstrated our willingness to respond to any North Korean provocation, including short-range ballistic missiles, and our ability and readiness to precisely target the enemy,” the JCS said.
North Korea is fully responsible for the crisis as it continues to provoke despite warnings, the JCS added.
Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida told reporters on Wednesday that North Korea was launching missiles “unprecedented”.
Kishida also called for a meeting of the National Security Council to be held as soon as possible due to rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.
“North Korea’s unprecedented launch of multiple ballistic missiles threatens the security of the Republic of Korea,” Australian Foreign Minister Penny Wong said. He tweeted. on Wednesday.
“Pyongyang must stop this action,” she added.
Amid Russian President Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine, Moscow has urged North and South Korea to avoid actions that “could lead to further escalation of tensions”.
Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Wednesday: “The situation is already very tense on the peninsula, and we urge everyone to remain calm and refrain from actions that could lead to further escalation.”
US Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield condemned North Korea’s unprecedented missile launch.
Thomas-Greenfield told CNN this morning with Don Lemon, Kathleen Collins and Poppy Harlow that the initiative would overturn “several Security Council resolutions” and that the UN would pressure China and Russia to revise and improve such sanctions.
US President Joe Biden declined to say whether he would raise it with Chinese President Xi at the G20, but said it was “on the president’s mind.”
This is North Korea’s 29th attack this year, according to a CNN count, and North Korean officials warned in a statement on Wednesday that the United States and South Korea would pay the “heaviest price in history” for any military action. Pyongyang
The sharp increase in weapons tests and talks has sparked regional panic, with the US, South Korea and Japan responding with missile launches and joint military exercises.
On Monday, the United States and South Korea began a major military exercise called “Cautionary Storm,” which had been scheduled earlier.
According to the US Department of Defense, the activities involve 240 aircraft and “thousands of service members” from both countries.
US Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin is scheduled to meet with his South Korean counterpart Lee Jong-sup at the Pentagon on Thursday.
Experts have previously told CNN that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may be deliberately displaying the country’s weapons during an international conflict to send a message.
Last month, North Korea’s state media broke a six-month silence on missile tests this year, signaling Pyongyang’s readiness to fire tactical nuclear warheads at potential targets in the South.
The latest tests also come after the UN nuclear watchdog warned last week that Pyongyang could be preparing for a nuclear test – in 2018. For the first time since 2017 – it comes after last week’s warning that satellite images showed activity at an underground nuclear test site.
“We are watching this very, very closely. We hope it won’t happen, but the signs are unfortunately going in the other direction,” International Atomic Energy Agency chief Rafael Grossi said last Thursday.
Update: This story has been updated to reflect that this is not the first time North and South Korea have fired missiles at each other at sea, and that North Korea has fired different types of missiles and is within kilometers of the NLL. .