The shooting occurs just days before an American-South Korean exercise to simulate a response to a North Korean nuclear attack.
According to the South Korean army, North Korea launched at least one ballistic missile on Saturday, February 18. According to Tokyo, the “ICBM class” fell in Japan’s Exclusive Economic Zone west of Hokkaido. Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida stated that he “instructed to inform the population and thoroughly check the security situation».
Military tensions on the Korean peninsula rose in 2022 when Pyongyang declared “irreversible” its nuclear status and conducted a record number of weapons tests. In response to its northern neighbour, Seoul conducted joint military manoeuvres with the United States, its key security ally, to persuade the South Korean public of the American commitment to deter Pyongyang from any attack.
A strong and “unprecedented” reaction
Saturday’s firing, the first in seven weeks, comes as the two allies prepare to hold a simulation exercise next week in Washington to discuss measures to be taken in the event of Pyongyang using nuclear weapons. “This exercise will focus on the joint planning, joint management, and joint response with nuclear assets in Washington in the event of an attack on Pyongyang with atomic weapons,” a South Korean Ministry of Defense official told AF.
North Korea threatened to react with force “unprecedented to the American-South Korean manoeuvres to come, seeing the preparations for an armed conflict.
South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, who took office in May 2022 promising to be tough on Pyongyang, has significantly increased military exercises with the US, which drastically reduced during the war. The pandemic, and interrupted during his predecessor Moon Jae’s failed diplomatic manoeuvres. Seoul used the term “enemy” for the first time in six years in a defence document on Thursday, signalling a further hardening of her stance on North Korea.
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