In a significant escalation of tensions on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea launched a short-range ballistic missile into the sea on Sunday, as confirmed by South Korean authorities. The missile, originating from near Pyongyang, traveled approximately 354 miles (570 kilometers) before plunging into the sea, according to South Korean officials.
The Japanese Coast Guard reported that the missile fell into the sea less than 20 minutes after its launch, a detail also covered by Reuters. This action by North Korea has been condemned by South Korea as a “clear violation” of United Nations Security Council resolutions, which prohibit Pyongyang from using ballistic missile technology.
In an immediate response, North Korea’s Defense Ministry issued a statement, surprisingly omitting any reference to the missile launch. Instead, the ministry directed its criticism towards the United States, accusing it of escalating military tensions in the region. This accusation refers to the recent U.S. deployment of strategic military assets to South Korea, including bombers and nuclear-powered submarines.
A spokesperson for North Korea’s Defense Ministry, in a statement obtained by Reuters, asserted that the DPRK’s armed forces are prepared to “thoroughly neutralize” any American or allied attempts to start a nuclear war, emphasizing their commitment to maintaining peace and security on the Korean peninsula.
Further escalating the situation, Pyongyang condemned the U.S. and South Korea for incorporating nuclear operation scenarios in their joint military drills, interpreting this as a direct threat to use nuclear weapons against North Korea. In response, the North vowed to prepare “offensive countermeasures,” though the specifics of these measures remain undisclosed.
In a striking development just hours before the missile launch, a joint statement from the United States and South Korea delivered a stern warning to Pyongyang. The statement, reported by Reuters, emphasized that any nuclear attack by North Korea against South Korea or its allies would be “unacceptable” and would result in the end of Kim Jong Un’s regime. It further stated that such an attack would be met with a “swift, overwhelming, and decisive response.”
This incident marks a continuation of North Korea’s aggressive military posture, with the nation having test-fired over 100 missiles since early 2022. Analysts suggest that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is exploiting the global focus on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine to accelerate his nuclear military program, which he perceives as essential for his regime’s survival.
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