North Korea has launched at least 10 ballistic missiles from areas along its coast, including one that crossed a de facto maritime border separating the two Koreas for the first time since the 1950s. The move comes just a day after Pyongyang denounced the ongoing war games between Washington and Seoul and pledged to take “Powerful Measures” in response.
After announcing a first volley of three missiles earlier Wednesday, the South Korean army’s Joint Chiefs of Staff noted that at least 10 projectiles from “various types” were fired in the East and West Seas. At least three are believed to be short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), one of which entered a buffer zone between the two sides.
“The launch of a missile by North Korea – which marks the first time since the division of the peninsula which [any missiles have] landed near our territorial waters south of the northern boundary line – is very rare and intolerable,” the joint chiefs said in a press release quoted by Yonhap, adding that the military “respond firmly to this provocation.”
According to the military, the SRBM landed at sea about 26 kilometers (16 miles) south of the northern boundary line, which was established as a provisional maritime border between North and South in 1953 after the Korean War – a conflict that was never officially concluded by a formal treaty.
Although the missile fell far from land, the launch nonetheless set off air raid sirens on South Korea’s Ulleung Island, prompting panicked residents to take cover, Yonhap reported.
The show of force came during the week-long ‘Vigilant Storm’ exercise hosted by the United States and South Korea, which will see hundreds of aircraft fly more than 1,600 training sorties and more aerial maneuvers. Pyongyang has denounced the drills as provocative, even suggesting they could be preparation for a nuclear attack on North Korea.
The “Vigilant Storm” drills follow several other rounds of war games between Washington and Seoul in recent months, some also involving Tokyo, all of which have been condemned by the North as rehearsals for an invasion. Pyongyang has responded with a record number of weapons tests this year, stoking fears among US and South Korean officials that they are preparing to carry out another nuclear test.
South Korea and the United States launch major war games
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