he United States, Japan and South Korea all held military drills today, hours after North Korea fired an intercontinental ballistic missile in Pyongyang’s second major weapons test this month.
North Korea’s test launch of the missile, which landed in Japanese waters, showed a potential ability to launch nuclear strikes on all of the US mainland, prompting a firm rebuke from Washington.
Washington quickly condemned the launch and vowed to take ‘all necessary measures’ to guarantee the safety of its territory and its allies South Korea and Japan.
Within hours of Pyongyang’s missile launch, Tokyo and the US held joint military drills in the airspace over the Sea of Japan in response to ‘an increasingly sever security environment surrounding Japan’, officials said.
The exercise also ‘further strengthens the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-US Alliance’, a joint staff statement distributed by the Japanese defence ministry said.
South Korea’s military also said its F-35 fighter jets conducted drills with simulating aerial strikes on North Korean mobile missile launchers at a firing range near its land border with North Korea.
Seoul said a group of eight South Korean and US fighter jets separately performed flight training off the Korean Peninsula’s east coast.
The exercises ‘showed we have a strong resolve to sternly deal with an ICBM launch and any other provocations and threats posed by North Korea, and the allies’ overwhelming capacity and readiness to launch precision strikes on the enemy,’ South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
‘This conduct by North Korea most recently is a brazen violation of multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions,’ Harris said. ‘It destabilises security in the region, and unnecessarily raises tensions.’
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the ICBM launch from North Korea’s capital region around 10.15 am. Japan said it appeared to fly on a high trajectory and land west of its island of Hokkaido.
Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters the altitude suggests the missile was launched on a high angle.
He said depending on the weight of a warhead to be placed on the missile, the weapon has a range exceeding 9,320 miles, ‘in which case it could cover the entire mainland United States.’
Calculations show that much of South America is the only part of the globe that Kim’s new missiles couldn’t strike.
The North’s ongoing torrid run of weapons tests aims to advance its nuclear arsenal and win greater concessions in eventual diplomacy and they come as China and Russia have opposed U.S. moves to toughen sanctions aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear program.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said it detected the ICBM launch from North Korea’s capital region around 10:15 a.m. and the weapon flew toward the North´s eastern coast across the country. Japan said the ICBM appeared to have flown on a high trajectory and landed west of Hokkaido.
U.S. National Security Council spokesperson Adrienne Watson said the launch ‘needlessly raises tensions and risks destabilizing’ regional security while showing the North’s prioritizing of unlawful weapons programs over the well-being of it people. He said President Joe Biden was briefed over the launch.
‘Pyongyang must immediately cease its destabilizing actions and instead choose diplomatic engagement,’ Watson said. ‘The United States will take all necessary measures to ensure the security of the American homeland and Republic of Korea and Japanese allies.’
Washington has been seeking to boost regional security cooperation and ramp up joint military drills in response to increasing provocations from the nuclear-armed North, which views all such moves as evidence of US aggression.
The drills are in response to increasing provocations from the nuclear-armed North, which views all such moves as evidence of US aggression.
Hamada, the Japanese defense minister, called the launch ‘a reckless act that threatens Japan as well as the region and the international community.’
South Korea´s Joint Chiefs of Staff called the launch ‘a grave provocation and serious threat’ to undermine international and regional peace and security.
It said South Korea maintains readiness to make ‘an overwhelming response to any North Korean provocation’ amid close coordination with the United States.
After being briefed over the launch, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered officials to boost a trilateral security cooperation with the United States and Japan and implement unspecified deterrence steps that were previously agreed upon with the United States.
Yoon also ordered officials to push for strong international condemnations and sanctions on North Korea, according to his office.
North Korea also launched an ICBM on Nov. 3, but experts said that weapon failed to fly its intended flight and fell into the ocean after a stage separation.
That test was believed to have involved a developmental ICBM called Hwasong-17. North Korea has two other types of ICBM – Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15 – and their test-launches in 2017 proved they could potentially reach parts of the U.S. homeland.
The Hwasong-17 has a longer potential range than the others, and its huge size suggests it´s designed to carry multiple nuclear warheads to defeat missile defense systems.
Some experts say the Nov. 3 test showed some technological progress in the development of the Hwasong-17, given that in its earlier test in March, the missile exploded soon after liftoff.
It wasn’t immediately known if North Korea launched a Hwasong-17 missile again on Friday or something else.
In recent months, North Korea has performed dozens of shorter-range missile tests that it called simulations of nuclear attacks on South Korean and U.S. targets. But it had halted weapons launches for about a week before it fired a short-range ballistic missile on Thursday.
Before Thursday´s launch, the North´s foreign minister, Choe Son Hui, threatened to launch ‘fiercer’ military responses to the U.S. bolstering its security commitment to its allies South Korea and Japan.
Choe was referring to President Biden´s recent trilateral summit with Yoon and Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida on the sidelines of a regional gathering in Cambodia. In their joint statement, the three leaders strongly condemned North Korea´s recent missile tests and agreed to work together to strengthen deterrence.
Biden reaffirmed the U.S. commitment to defend South Korea and Japan with a full range of capabilities, including its nuclear arms.
Choe didn´t say what steps North Korea could take but said that ‘the U.S. will be well aware that it is gambling, for which it will certainly regret.’
Pyongyang sees the U.S. military presence in the region as proof of its hostility toward North Korea.
It has said its recent series of weapons launches were its response to what it called provocative military drills between the United States and South Korea.
There have been concerns that North Korea might conduct its first nuclear test in five years as its next major step toward bolstering its military capability against the United States and its allies.
North Korea has been under multiple rounds of United Nations sanctions over its previous nuclear and missile tests.
But no fresh sanctions have been applied this year though it has conducted dozens of ballistic missile launches, which are banned by U.N. Security Council resolutions.
That´s possible because China and Russia, two of the U.N. council´s veto-wielding members, oppose new U.N. sanctions.