South Korean military says North Korea test-fired ‘ballistic missiles’

The launches come a day after the United States and South Korea conducted joint fighter jet drills.

North Korea condemned a plan by South Korea and the United States to stage combined annual military drills in August [Ahn Young-joon/AP]Published On 17 May 202417 May 2024

North Korea has test-fired short-range “ballistic missiles” towards the Sea of Japan, the South Korean military said a day after it conducted joint drills with the United States using stealth fighter jets to simulate air combat.

In a brief statement on Friday, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said the launches were made from North Korea’s eastern coast region of Wonsan and that the country had bolstered its surveillance posture and was maintaining readiness.

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The statement did not provide further details of the latest launches but added that an analysis was under way.

On Thursday, two South Korean F-35As and two US F-22 Raptors conducted aerial exercises over the central region of South Korea. Such drills infuriate North Korea, which views them as rehearsals for invasion.

While the South’s military did not specify the latest type of weapon, North Korean state media reported that its military has been testing multiple launch rocket systems that are being upgraded.

North Korea also denounced a plan by South Korea and the US to stage joint annual military exercises in August, warning they could face a “catastrophic aftermath” if the drills are carried out. It described them as a “nuclear attack exercise”.

“This clearly shows that Washington’s claim that it has no hostile intent is nothing but a deceptive hypocrisy,” according to a statement published by the official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

Banned tests

In late April, North Korea fired a 600mm “super-large warhead” towards the same area.

North Korea is barred by multiple United Nations sanctions from any tests using ballistic technology, but its key ally Russia used its UN Security Council veto in March to effectively end UN monitoring of violations.

The UN panel of experts was investigating allegations that North Korea was transferring weapons to Moscow, with South Korea claiming in March that some 7,000 containers of arms had been sent to Russia for use in Ukraine since around July 2023.

Earlier on Friday, Kim’s powerful sister Kim Yo Jong said the country’s tactical weapons were intended as a deterrent against South Korean military aggression and denied it exports weapons.

The US and experts have said North Korea is seeking a range of military assistance from Russia in return, such as satellite technology and upgrading its Soviet-era military equipment.

North Korea said last week it would equip its military with a new 240mm multiple rocket launcher this year, adding that a “significant change” for the army’s artillery combat capabilities was under way.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies