North and South Korea exchange missile launches as tensions ratchet up even further

Seoul, South Korea – Air raid sirens sounded on a South Korean island and residents were evacuated to underground shelters after North Korea fired at least 17 missiles on Wednesday, at least one of which landed in its direction and landed near the rival’s tense sea border, South Korea’s military said. South Korea quickly responded by firing its own missiles in the same border area.

The South later said the North had fired six more missiles off its east and west coasts.

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The launches came hours after North Korea threatened use nuclear weapons to make the US and South Korea “pay the most terrible price in history” in protest of ongoing South Korean-US military exercises, which they see as a rehearsal for an invasion. The White House has insisted that the United States has no hostile intentions toward North Korea and has pledged to work with allies to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

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North Korea’s missile tests also came as the world’s attention focused on South Korea after the Halloween weekend tragedy that killed more than In Seoul, 150 people died in a mob wave it was the country’s worst disaster in years.

South Korea’s military said North Korea fired at least 17 missiles — all short-range ballistic weapons or suspected surface-to-air missiles — off its east and west coasts on Wednesday morning. Later in the day, North Korea fired about 100 artillery shells into the eastern buffer zone established by the two Koreas in 2018 to ease tensions, South Korea’s military said.

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The 17 missile launches are a record number of daily weapons tests by North Korea in recent years.

North Korean missile lands off South Korean coast for first time;  The South responds with releases of its own
People watch a television news report of North Korea launching a ballistic missile off its east coast, in Seoul, South Korea, in 2022. November 2


One of the missiles launched by Pyongyang, a ballistic weapon, flew toward South Korea’s Ulleung Island before landing 104 miles northwest of the island. The South Korean military later issued an airstrike alert on the island, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff. South Korean media published photos of islanders moving to underground shelters.

Hours later on Wednesday, South Korea’s military said it had lifted the airstrike warning on the island.

That missile landed 16 miles from the rivals’ sea wall. The landing site is in international waters, but far south of the extension of the countries’ sea border, off the east coast of South Korea. South Korea’s military said it was the first time a North Korean missile had landed so close to the sea border since the countries split in 1948.

“This is highly unprecedented and we will never tolerate it,” South Korea’s chiefs of staff said in a separate statement.

In 2010, North Korea shelled South Korea’s front island off the peninsula’s west coast, killing four people. However, the weapons used were artillery rockets, not ballistic missiles, the launch or testing of which is prohibited by several UN Security Council resolutions.

Later on Wednesday, South Korean fighter jets fired three precision-guided air-to-surface missiles near the eastern sea border in a show of their determination to strongly counter North Korea’s provocations. South Korea’s military said the missiles landed in international waters at the same distance, 16 miles north of the extension of the sea border, as the North Korean missile landed earlier on Wednesday.

It said it was ready for a “huge victory” against North Korea in potential clashes.

“North Korea’s firing of missiles in a way that sounds air raid sirens seems to be aimed at threatening the South Koreans to pressure their government to change policies,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor at Seoul’s Ewha University. “North Korea’s expanding military capabilities and testing are worrisome, but offering concessions on alliance cooperation or nuclear recognition would make matters worse.”

South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff earlier said three North Korean weapons fired as “short-range ballistic missiles” were fired from the northeastern coastal city of Wonsan, including one that landed near the sea border.

North Korea’s short-range weapons are designed to hit key targets in South Korea, including US military bases there.

In an emergency meeting with top security officials, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol ordered officials to take immediate contingency measures to make North Korea face the consequences of its provocation. He said he would consider a North Korean missile landing near the border “a real violation of (our) territorial waters.”

According to South Korea’s presidency, during the emergency South Korean meeting, “participants regretted the provocations during our period of national mourning and stressed that it clearly shows the nature of the North Korean government.”

Earlier on Wednesday, Japanese Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada told reporters that at least two ballistic missiles launched by North Korea showed a possibly “erratic” trajectory. It indicates that the missiles are North Korea’s highly maneuverable, nuclear-capable KN-23 missiles, based on Russia’s Iskander missile.

Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called North Korea’s continued missile tests “totally impermissible.”

US and South Korean officials told CBS News that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is preparing to conduct an atomic test soon, continuing development of a tactical nuclear weapon. A nuclear test would show that Kim Jong Un has been able to expand his weapons program through the Trump and Biden administrations and despite The Covid-19 pandemic.

“We think they’re ready to go. All Kim needs to do is give the thumbs up,” a senior US State Department official told CBS News.

A tactical nuclear device is designed for potential use on the battlefield.

Analyst Cheong Seong-Chang of the private Sejong Institute in South Korea said the risk of armed clashes between the Koreas on their western or eastern shores is increasing. He said South Korea must take “proportionate responses” to North Korea’s provocations rather than “massive responses” to prevent tensions from spiraling out of control and possibly prompting North Korea to use its tactical nuclear weapons.

Hostilities on the Korean Peninsula have escalated in recent months North Korea is testing a nuclear missiles and pass a law allowing the preemptive use of its nuclear weapons in various situations. Some experts still doubt that North Korea would use nuclear weapons first against US and South Korean forces.

North Korea has argued that its recent weapons tests were intended to warn Washington and Seoul about several joint military exercises it sees as rehearsals for an invasion, including this week’s exercise involving some 240 warplanes.

In a statement early Wednesday, Pak Jong Chon, secretary of the ruling Workers’ Party and considered a close confidant of leader Kim, called the so-called Vigilant Storm air force exercise “aggressive and provocative.”

“If the US and South Korea try to use armed forces against (North Korea) without any fear, the special measures of the (North) armed forces will immediately fulfill their strategic mission,” Pak said. of the country’s nuclear weapons.

“The US and South Korea will have to face a terrible case and pay the worst price in history,” he said.

US and South Korean officials have strongly insisted that their drills are defensive in nature and do not intend to attack North Korea.


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