‘We are ready to neutralize the origin of the provocation’: South Korea and the US react after the missile launched by North Korea

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South Korea and the United States fired several missiles at sea targets on Wednesday, a day after Pyongyang fired a ballistic missile that passed over Japan.

A North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) flew over Japan on Tuesday, the first in five years, prompting Tokyo to activate its warning system.

The South Korean and US armies each fired two ATACMS short-range ballistic missiles on Wednesday, according to the South Korean General Staff. “to accurately hit a virtual target” in the Sea of ​​Japan. These exercises “showed that we are able and ready to neutralize the origin of the provocation while maintaining a position of constant surveillance”he added in a press release.

However, the South Korean military confirmed the failed launch of a fifth Hyunmoo-2 short-range ballistic missile, which crashed to the ground shortly after launch. The missile warhead did not explode and no one was injured, according to personnel. But a major fire broke out and caused panic in the city of Gangneung on South Korea’s east coast, with many worried residents calling the city hall, authorities said.

On Tuesday, South Korean and US fighter jets had already conducted precision strike drills, according to Seoul, with the dropping of bombs on a virtual target in the Yellow Sea by two South Korean F-15K fighter jets. US National Security Council spokesman John Kirby, interviewed by CNN, said it was “respond to provocations from the North to ensure we can demonstrate our own capabilities”.

Negotiations without conditions

“It shouldn’t come to this. We have made it clear to Kim Jong Un that we are ready to sit down at the table without preconditions.”he added.
The South Korean military also announced Wednesday the return to the region of the US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which conducted exercises with the South Korean navy in September.

North Korea, which adopted a new doctrine in September “irreversible” its status as a nuclear power, this year stepped up its launch and launched an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time since 2017. Tuesday’s launch was the fifth in ten days. Pyongyang did not comment on the case in official media.

The UN Security Council is due to meet on Wednesday on this issue. According to Seoul and Tokyo, the missile traveled about 4,600 km, probably the longest distance that Pyongyang has ever reached in its tests. Missiles are usually launched along a trajectory “the ceiling” to avoid flying over neighboring countries.

According to experts and senior officials, the missile is a nuclear-capable Hwasong-12 IRBM. It was first tested in 2017 and is capable of reaching US bases on the island of Guam.

“Escalation”

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres condemned a “escalation” and called Pyongyang “to resume the dialogue” to achieve “complete and verifiable denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”.

South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, for his part, deplored one “provocation” violates “clearly the universal principles and standards of the United Nations”and ordered “a fixed answer”.

Seoul, Tokyo and Washington have recently stepped up joint maneuvers, organizing the first trilateral anti-submarine drills in five years on September 30, days after major maneuvers by the US and South Korean navies. About 28,500 US troops are stationed in South Korea to help protect it from its neighbor.

South Korean and US officials have warned for months that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is preparing to conduct another nuclear test.
This could take place after the Chinese Communist Party Congress, which begins on October 16, several senior officials from the US Asia-Pacific Command said over the weekend.

“Despite today’s missile launch (…), North Korea’s intention to conduct a nuclear test will remain unchanged”says Yang Moo-jin, professor at the University of North Korean Studies, to AFP. “Pyongyang likely to ridicule today’s missile launch – especially since one of the launches failed”he added, talking about the South Korean and American launches on Wednesday.

Pyongyang has tested nuclear bombs six times since 2006. The most recent and most powerful test came in 2017, with an estimated yield of 250 kilotons.

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