North Korea launches a barrage of missiles, including ICBMs, hours after Biden left Asia

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea fired three missiles, including one believed to be an ICBM, after US President Joe Biden left Asia after a trip in which he agreed to new measures to deter nuclear weapons. armed state.

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the three missiles were launched in less than an hour from the Sunan area of ​​the North’s capital, Pyongyang, whose international airport has become a missile testing center.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff said the first missile launched on Wednesday appeared to be an ICBM, while a second apparently unidentified missile failed mid-flight. It added that the third missile is a short-range ballistic missile (SRBM).

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In response, the US and South Korea conducted live-fire exercises, including surface-to-surface missile tests involving the US Army’s Tactical Missile System (ATACMS) and the Hyunmoo-2 SRBM in the south, according to the two militaries.

“The show of force presented by our military was intended to highlight our resolve to respond firmly to any North Korean provocations, including the launch of intercontinental ballistic missiles, and our formidable capacity and willingness to deliver a surgical strike on the origin of the provocation,” the Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement. formulations.

North Korea has conducted a series of missile launches this year, from hypersonic weapons to testing the launch of its largest intercontinental ballistic missile for the first time in nearly five years. It also appears to be preparing for what will be its first nuclear test since 2017.

US and South Korean officials recently warned that North Korea appeared ready for another weapons test, possibly during Biden’s visit, which was his first trip to Asia as president and included a summit with South Korean President Yun Suk-yul in Seoul.

Yoon, who took office on May 10, held his first meeting of the National Security Council, which vehemently denounced the latest launch as a “serious provocation,” especially since it came before Biden’s return home.

Yoon’s office said Yoon ordered the aid to bolster expanded US deterrence and a common defense posture as agreed with Biden.

“The continued provocations by North Korea will only lead to stronger and faster deterrence between South Korea and the United States, and will further isolate itself,” Yoon’s government said in a separate statement.

A White House official said Biden, who departed Japan on Tuesday night, has been briefed on the launches and will continue to receive updates.

South Korea’s Foreign Ministry, Park Jin, and US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken said they also agreed to step up diplomatic efforts to bolster expanded deterrence and facilitate a new UN sanctions resolution in a phone call.

“We call on the DPRK to refrain from further provocations and engage in an ongoing and substantive dialogue,” a foreign ministry spokesman said, using the initials of North Korea’s official name.

force show

Pyongyang resumed intercontinental ballistic missile tests in late March, ending a self-imposed 2017 ban on long-range missiles and nuclear tests, amid stalled denuclearization talks with Washington. Read more

In Wednesday’s test, the suspected ICBM flew 360 km (223.7 miles) to a maximum altitude of 540 km, while the short-range missile flew 760 km to a maximum altitude of 60 km, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

Japan’s defense minister said Japan had reported at least two launches, one of which flew about 300 kilometers and had a maximum altitude of 550 kilometers, and the other of about 750 kilometers (465 miles) and a maximum altitude of 50 kilometers.

Japan’s NHK broadcaster said the missiles appeared to have landed outside Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

Japan’s Chief Cabinet Secretary Hirokazu Matsuno said North Korea may take more provocative measures, including a nuclear test.

The US Army’s Indo-Pacific Command said it was aware of the “multiple” launches. They highlighted the “destabilizing effect of the DPRK’s illegal weapons program” but did not pose an immediate threat.

In Seoul over the weekend, Biden and Yun agreed to hold larger military exercises and deploy more US strategic assets if needed to deter North Korea’s extensive weapons tests. Read more

But they also offered to send COVID-19 vaccines to North Korea as the isolated country battles its first confirmed spread, and called on Pyongyang to return to diplomacy. Read more

Biden said at the time that there was no response from Pyongyang to diplomatic initiatives or offers of assistance.

The final hours of Biden’s visit to the region also saw Russian and Chinese bombers fly on joint patrols near Japan and South Korea’s air defense zones on Tuesday in an apparent farewell. Read more

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Reporting from Hyonhee Shin. Additional reporting by Su Hyang Choi and Josh Smith in Seoul, David Dolan and Mariko Katsumura in Tokyo, David Bronstrom, Philip Stewart, Kanishka Singh and Eric Beach in Washington; Editing by Richard Boleyn and Jerry Doyle

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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