South Korea’s military said it has fired multiple missiles on Thursday in retaliation to North Korea’s testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles, reported North Korea News.
Joint Chief of Staff General Won In-choul said the firing was part of a “joint ground-sea-air missile” live-fire exercise conducted from the East Sea at 4.25 pm local time (12.55 pm Indian Standard Time).
“Through the live fire, our military showed the immediate response and retaliatory capability and willingness” by firing one Hyunmoo-II surface-to-surface ballistic missile, one missile from the Army Tactical Missile System, one Haesong-II ship-to-ground cruise missile and two Joint Direct Attack Munition air-to-ground missiles, he said in a statement.
“North Korea rejecting offers from the international community on dialogue and going through an ICBM test is a serious act of challenge against our military and the ROK-US [Republic of Korea-United States] alliance, hence we strongly condemn it,” the statement said.
Earlier in the day, North Korea had test-fired intercontinental ballistic missile, the country’s neighbours had said. The missile range was 1,100 km, said Japanese officials, reported BBC. It reached an altitude of over 6,200 km and fell into Japanese waters after being in the air for over an hour, the officials said.
In South Korea, President Moon Jae-in held an Emergency National Security Council meeting on Thursday afternoon to discuss the incident.
“Today’s launch of a long-range ballistic missile is a violation of the UN Security Council resolutions as North Korea’s promised suspension of intercontinental ballistic missile launches, and it is not only in violation of UN Security Council resolutions, but also in the context of war in Ukraine, on the Korean Peninsula, in the region, and in the international community,” said Jae-in.
He said that Pyongyang’s actions poses a serious risk.
Jae-in also condemned the act but noted that “diplomatic efforts to achieve denuclearisation and establish peace on the Korean Peninsula must also continue.”
The United States described Pyongyang’s actions as a “brazen violation” of United Nation Security Council resolutions.
White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki added: “The door has not closed on diplomacy, but Pyongyang must immediately cease its destabilising actions.”
Kim Dong-yub, a professor at Seoul’s University of North Korean Studies, told the Associated Press that the flight details suggest the missile could reach targets that are 15,000 kms away when it is fired on normal trajectory with a warhead weighing less than a tonne.
This range puts the entire US mainland within North Korea’s striking distance.
North Korea’s Thursday’s launch was its first long-range missile test in five years. In January, it had test-fired Hwasong-12, an intermediate-range ballistic missile capable of hitting the United States territory of Guam in the Western Pacific region. Pyongyang had test-fired six missiles in that month.
Hwasong-12 is the same weapon that North Korea had used to threaten Guam with “an enveloping fire” in 2017.