The two Koreas exchanged missile fire on Wednesday: Pyongyang launched more than 10, one of which fell near South Korean territorial waters, prompting Seoul to retaliate with three air-to-surface missiles , South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol denouncing a “de facto territorial invasion”. A short-range ballistic missile attributed to North Korea first crossed the Northern Limit Line, which is the de facto maritime boundary between the two countries, prompting a rare airstrike alert asking residents of the South Korean island of Ulleungdo to take refuge in underground shelters.
Seoul military says it’s ‘the first time since the division of the peninsula’ after fighting in the Korean War in 1953 that a North Korean missile has landed so close to southern territorial waters . Yoon Suk-yeol “stressed that the North Korean provocation is a de facto territorial invasion by a missile that crossed the Northern Limit Line for the first time since the division” of the peninsula, the South Korean presidency said in a press release.
“Rapid and severe” measures
The missile that fell closest to South Korea landed in waters just 57 kilometers (35 miles) east of mainland South Korea, Seoul’s military said, calling it “very rare and intolerable” the shooting of Pyongyang. “We declare that our army will respond decisively to this,” she added. Soon after, the Seoul military reported firing three air-to-surface missiles near the spot at the sea border where the North Korean missile fell. The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff initially claimed to have identified a launch of three short-range ballistic missiles. But he later announced that North Korea had launched “more than 10 missiles of different types towards the East and the West”.
President Yoon has called a meeting of the National Security Council over the launch, which analysts say is one of the most “aggressive and threatening” in several years. The South Korean president also ordered “swift and severe measures so that North Korea’s provocations pay a heavy price”. Japan has also confirmed the launch of North Korean missiles, with Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida telling reporters he wants to “hold a national security meeting as soon as possible”.
Seoul and Washington are currently holding the largest joint air exercise in their history, dubbed “Vigilant Storm”, involving hundreds of warplanes from both armies. Pak Jong Chon, field marshal and secretary of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party, called the drills aggressive and provocative, according to a report by North Korea’s official press on Wednesday. According to him, the name of these maneuvers echoes Operation “Desert Storm”, the name given to the military operations of the coalition led by the United States against Iraq in 1990 and 1991 after the invasion of Kuwait.
“If the United States and South Korea try to use their armed forces against the (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) without fear, the special means of the DPRK armed forces will accomplish their strategic mission without delay,” Pak said. Jong Chon, according to state-run KCNA. “The United States and South Korea will face a terrible bargain and pay the most horrible price in history,” Pak Jong Chon added.
The missiles fired by North Korea on Wednesday constitute “the most aggressive and threatening show (of force) against the South since 2010”, Cheong Seong-chang, a researcher at the Sejong Institute, told AFP. “This is a dangerous and unstable situation that could lead to armed (clashes),” he added.
“A grave threat”
In March 2010, a North Korean submarine torpedoed a South Korean corvette, the Cheonan, killing 46 sailors, 16 of whom were doing their compulsory military service. In November of the same year, the North had bombed an island bordering South Korea, causing the death of two young soldiers.
The North also seems confident in its nuclear capabilities.
The North Korean missile launch on Wednesday comes after a series of launches, including what the North has called tactical nuclear exercises. Washington and Seoul repeatedly warn that Pyongyang could carry out a new nuclear test, which would be the 7th in its history. “As long as I can remember, North Korea has never carried out such a provocation when South Korea and the United States were carrying out joint maneuvers,” Park Won-gon, a professor at the University, told AFP. Ewa University. “Pyongyang seems to have completed its most powerful (measure of) deterrence. It is a serious threat. The North also seems confident in its nuclear capabilities. »
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